February 10, Ash Wednesday
The Word Creates*
Genesis 1:1-3 (NRSV)
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
I struggle to make friends with winter. The cold bothers me, the wind irritates me, and cold rain and snow are not my friends, either. But my real struggles with winter are the short days and the long nights. Some people struggle so much with the lack of light that there is a clinical diagnosis for it. They call it Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. They use special full-spectrum lights to offset its affects and stave off depression.
Isn’t it fascinating that in the creation story the very first action of God was to speak light into existence? Before he gave earth any form at all, he brought light. The breath of God, the breath of speech, passed over the formless waters beginning its work. And the very first act was to bring light into being.
Light. Waves of particles. Bands of energy. Bearer of warmth. Purveyor of sight. The first thing. The very first thing was light.
We often equate light with good and night with evil. But in Scripture God often breaks in to the night to deliver messages in dreams, to bring the Hebrews out of Egypt, or to deliver manna to them in the wilderness. God brought good news to Nicodemus when he came to Jesus at night. God is speaking light into darkness throughout Scripture.
In Matthew‘s gospel, darkness fell up on the earth as Jesus died on the cross.
Advent is a time we prepare for the coming of the Christ child. We start softly and slowly and we build for four weeks and end with a grand celebration of Immanuel, God with us! It seems to me that during Lent we start with the humble repentance of Ash Wednesday and descend for forty days ever deeper into darkness. It takes work to go deep enough into darkness to find Jesus on the cross. We descend until we find ourselves at the foot of the cross on Good Friday, gazing through the darkness at the wounds of Jesus.
And then Easter comes.
God spoke again. He said let there be light. And the longest night ended.
Hallelujah! Thanks be to God!
What kind of light is God breathing into your life? How is God using you to breathe light into the lives of others?
Gracious, light-breathing God, hold our hands in the darkness as we seek to go deeper and ever closer to your glorious light!
By Charlie Fuller, Pastor for Congregational Life,
Second Baptist Church, Little Rock and member of the CBF Governing Council
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