As you are reading this today, my wife, Becky, and I are returning from a far away Lenten journey. We have just had the privilege to go to Greece (and a day in Turkey) to "Follow in the Footsteps of St. Paul." How appropriate, I thought, because this weekly column is called "Footsteps to Follow"!
Since we announced our trip, many people have said that they have been to Greece or on a similar trip or would love to go on such a journey. In St. Paul's day the travel conditions were a little different and passport security was run by the Romans, but one still has to prepare for the day and night of journeys. Because of this, I find it interesting that tomorrow in many of our churches we will hear a reading from Ephesians. Ephesians is one of those letters that most theologians believe was written in the "spirit of St.Paul, most likely by a disciple of his, and the letter seems to be more of a general one, even though it is addressed to the Ephesians. Ephesus is one of the places that we will be returning from, as it is our one stop in Turkey. As this epistle (letter) addresses a variety of topics of our life in Christ from the "cosmic" to "household relationships," this particular reading is at the end of the section that is about the mission and community of the church.
So as one who still will be adjusting to the light and dark after traveling from a different part of the world, it struck me that many around our world tomorrow will hear, "Once you were in darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light. ... Find out what is pleasing to the Lord. ... Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, 'Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.'" (Ephesians 5:8-14).
Lent is a time of lengthening days. As our days become longer we are getting more light to live in and less time for darkness (especially for us night owls). A powerful reality of living in the Northern Hemisphere which physically embodies our Lenten journey of following the incarnated one who will have be buried in a dark tomb while the light is lengthening. But he will not stay in that tomb; like a lily bulb he will come back to the light after being buried and will continue to be our light. We will celebrate these mysteries in a couple weeks from Palm Sunday through Easter Day. Yet, every Sunday, even during lent, is a "little Easter" that celebrates this mystery of our Christian faith.
So as we continue on our Lenten journey to the darkness of the grave, I hope you will have times to expose yourself to the light of Christ, to be open to the deepest center of your being. Both the places that are dark and those that are already full of light!
Please pray with me: "Gracious Father, whose blessed son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life and light to the world: evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
- Wagner-Pizza is the canon and provost of Trinity Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Williamsport.