Given that Easter falls on April 16th this year, we will have a relatively late start to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season. In fact, this is one of those rare years where Lent does not overlap into the month of February.
Over the years, those of us in this part of the Christian tradition have changed our way of looking at these Sundays that fall after Epiphany. Back when I first started out in ministry, we treated this time as almost a separate season to itself, complete with its own themes. We used the same liturgical color – white – that we used for Epiphany itself. Now, we reckon these days as part of “ordinary time,” a non-specified time of the church year with Sundays that can be numbered, and we use the same color that we used for all of those Sundays after Pentecost.
Still, this time of varying length between the Epiphany and the last Sunday before Lent seems to have a quality of its own. We begin on the heels of the story of the visit of the Wise Men, which is a story of light and revelation. Then, in rapid succession, we read the stories of Jesus’ baptism and the beginning of his public ministry in Galilee, which itself is a narrative of light and revealing. Finally, on the Sunday before Lent we have that wondrously odd story of the Transfiguration: Jesus is revealed in a flash of brilliant white light, foreshadowing his resurrected glory. He appears with Moses and Elijah. Then, the vision ends, and it is time to come down from the mountain and begin that final journey to Jerusalem. We begin with glory and revelation and we end with glory and revelation.
It is my wish that the stories of light and revelation that we touch on during these weeks of the church year may be a welcome time of hope in what is often a dark season of the year. The light that came to us at Christmas, and has been gradually revealed to the world during these last weeks of the church year, cannot be overcome by the darkness around us. This should be good and welcome news.
May your journeys in this season be filled with light and hope.
Your servant in Christ,
Rev. Jim Hoppert