The Church and The Moon

Photo by  Jordan Steranka  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jordan Steranka on Unsplash

While reading a book for class,  I was reminded that the Christian calendar is based on the moon, and not the sun.

Who cares?

The moon is not a light source, but the object that reflects the light. It goes in phases, and is sometimes bright and other times seemingly absent. It is easily masked by clouds and yet does not hurt your eyes to look directly at it. It shines in the darkness even if only a sliver.

The Church is not the Light, but only attempts to reflect it. At her best, it shines in the darkness and at her worst it is absent from view. The Church is not what gives life but can help sustain life in the dark times. The Church pulls people together with intimacy and peace not unlike the moonlight summer nights of our lives.

This may contribute to our discomfort with Church. It is inconsistent and does not do all that we would want it to do. It does not fit neatly into our evenly measured lives and is more mysterious than we are comfortable with. It requires work to see and is easily over shadowed, but the Church and the Moon are tied together in a way that both are dependent on the Light.

A Church Full of Lucifers and Crucifers

At the church I serve, each Sunday during worship young people carry lit candles down the sanctuary aisles. They carry their candles and use them to light candles on the communion table. We commonly call these young people "acolytes". Perhaps that is a better name than the earlier name of this role -- lucifers. 

Lucifer means "light bearer," which is exactly what we are called to be in the world. Christians are not the Light, but only bearers of the Light. Of course the problem with calling Christians lucifers is that through non-Biblical literature, that title has been given as a proper name to the Devil. While we may be called to be lucifers, we don't use that name. 

Another title that Christians have is one of "crucifer". If we look to the procession in the Church, there are those who carry in the light and there is the one who carries in the cross. The one who carries the cross is called the "crucifer". Oddly enough this title has not been appropriated to the Devil or anything else. Frankly, the language of crucifer is lost in the Protestant tradition and very limited in the Catholic tradition. 

It is a shame that we as Christians are hesitant to take on the titles of lucifer and crucifer, because we are called to carry the light and to carry the cross into the world.

A Need for More Yellow Lights

I can recall the times when I hit all red lights and when I hit all green lights, however I don't recall the times when I hit a slew of yellow lights. I wonder why I don't remember?

It could be that we live in a world that prefers red light/green lights. We are either going or stopping.

For instance, the Church is a place where red/green light living is in full swing. There are ministries where we give the green light and we are blowing and going! There are other times when too much is happening too quickly and there is a collective red light that stops the body. Some people are annoyed with green lights because we move to fast. Others find red lights frustrating since we are not going anywhere. So the push and pull between the red lighters and the green lighters continues on. 

I would submit that what the Church needs is not more red or green but more yellow lights. Often times we think that yellow lights mean to "slow down" or "pause". But that is not accurate:

Yellow lights are the place that give us greater ability to practice discernment. 

Living a life of red and green lights means that you don't to discern what to do. We see it most easily in red light living, you have not choice but to stop. However, green light living has just as little freedom: you have no choice but to go. Yellow lights however require a good bit of discernment - should I accelerate? Slow down? How far am I to the next car? What about behind me? Should I change lanes? Thus yellow light living is the most liberating way to live but for most of us that amount of freedom is too much. It is easier to stop or go, discerning is difficult. 

While red lights give us space to stopping, and green lights give us space to move, yellow lights give us space to discern. More than stopping or moving, discernment is what is needed most today. 

In a red and green light world, the humble yellow light is often forgotten.


The Cracks are a Feature Not a Fault

In 2011 Will Ferrell was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Here is the first two minutes of his acceptance speech and it is greatness.

There is a story within the Jewish tradition in which God creates the world by taking in a breath in order to contract God's self in order to make room for creation. Then the divine light was put into ten vessels and sent to creation but the vessels broke the light got out. Some of the light returned to the Source and other parts fell all over creation. We see the divine lights in stars, grains of sand and in the sparkle in the eyes of others. Human beings were created with the task to "repair the world" - Tikkum Olam. 

While it was part of a bit, when Will Ferrell dropped the award his instinct is what our instinct would be. Pick up the pieces and try to repair it. 

The Gospel is the story that says, the cracks in the world are important. When Jesus was resurrected his hands and feet were still cracked. The self-help industry see cracks as a fault. The Good News sees cracks as a feature. Jesus did not cover up the cracks in his body, rather it was the cracks that became the conduit for others to believe it all to be real. The cracks in our lives are what make us real. As it was said by Leonard Cohen, "There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in." 

You see, when we repair the world the self-help world will teach us that we need to eradicate the cracks, mask over them, repair them so they are gone. The Gospel says that when we do that, when we hid the cracks, we also hide the light. Repairing the world with God is about exposing light, it is about embracing the cracks and trusting that God uses the cracks to heal the world.

The cracks are a feature not a fault.