“ . . . and it was night.”
As the season of Lent winds into its final days, I reflect back on the time we’ve spent in the Dark Wood with our Lenten studies of Eric Elnes’ book, “Gifts of the Dark Wood.” We’ve traveled this landscape in search and consideration of The Gift of Uncertainty, The Gift of Emptiness, The Gift of Feeling Lost, The Gift of Temptation, The Gift of Being Awe-struck, and The Gift of Community.
The Dark Wood, of course, is an experience everyone has at one time or another — we all spend some time there during the course of our lives. And now we understand that when we know where to look, there are gifts to be found in these dark times.
Sometimes the Dark Wood comes suddenly — with the death of someone we love. So it was with the Disciples of Jesus.
Sometimes the Dark Wood comes when our hopes are dashed and the future looks bleak. So it was with the Disciples.
Sometimes the Dark Wood comes when our faith is severely tested. So it was with the Disciples.
Sometimes the Dark Wood comes when we feel alone or abandoned. So it was with the Disciples.
But the darkness that surrounds us never has the last word.
The Darkness of Good Friday and Jesus’ expression of abandonment — “My God, my God, why have you left me?” — made his death on the cross and the seeming finality of the tomb a moment of utter hopelessness.
But as we know, that’s not the end of the story.
Just as the Disciples experienced new life and new hope in the darkest of times, so can we.
Just as the Disciples found hope in the face of death, so can we.
Just as the Disciples found new direction for the future, so can we.
Just as the Disciples emerged from a supreme test of faith with faith that was even stronger, so can we.
Just as the Disciples came to understand that they were not abandoned and alone, so can we.
What made this shift possible for the Disciples was their experience of the resurrected Christ. And so it is for us in our own lives.
I look forward to exploring this process of transformation with you — and what it can mean in our own lives — as we experience together the absolute glory of Easter Sunday morning in worship.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster,