meditation:Bright Sadness Shining in Darkness
Then Jesus was lead up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matt 4:1
(The term “bright sadness” is used in Eastern Orthodox Christianity to describe the characteristics of Lent.)
The bright sadness of lent has a fresh meaning this year. Many of us are leaving the distractions of the crowd and have been led into the wilderness. Our faith has been questioned by ourselves and others. Darkness continues to seduce believers into meeting our physical needs, challenging our identity and possessing the whole world in exchange for our loyalty. The temptations and strategies of dark forces have remained the same.
The first temptation of Christ in the wilderness came at the end of forty days of fasting. We can almost hear the salesman of darkness argue the case. He would explain that it is “only natural” to want bread after so long a time with out any. It would seem to be what the father would want for his son and a great way to demonstrate magical spiritual powers. The response of Jesus was simply, “Man can not live by bread a lone but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Scripture informs us that all of creation is the result of the Word of God. Jesus confessed that both stones and bread (and every thing else) exists because of God’s word and we exist because of it all. Every element of creation sustains us. The temptation was physical and emotional, the response was spiritual and practical. The voice of darkness was saying be comfortable and “put your money where your mouth is” Prove you have power. The voice of light demonstrated there was no need to.
Christ was not motivated by the physical and emotional temptations so the next challenge concerned the nature of his identity. He was chided to prove he is the son of God by throwing himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple. He was being tempted to use power to protect himself from traumatic injury and death and to engage in risky behavior. Jesus simply responded again with the word of God which spoke all things into existence, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Afterall God established even the laws of physics, such as gravity. Again Jesus referred to the all encompassing Word of creation. There was not need for more than this.
Neither Christ’s bodily desires, emotions nor the source of his identity caused him to fall to temptation. Darkness issued the one last enticement, the one which continues to seduce many-Political power. The voice of Darkness promised him possession of the whole world in exchange for praise and honor. Jesus was asked to compromise dependency on God’s love in exchange for a chance to rule the world. Jesus again responded with the powerful Word of God, …”you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”
The bright sadness of our day presents us with these same challenges. Many are seduced by physical comforts, demonstrations of spiritual powers and the chance to rule the world. The church has been called away by threats of being left behind and promises of governing an emerging empire. We are told all we have to do is compromise on one little part of Jesus' teaching. All we have to do is embrace millitary force. Many Christians have have decided to name it and claim it, demonstrate signs and wonders, and fight for a new world after a nuclear war.
In this time of bright sadness we can rely on the love of the Living Word which spoke everything into existence.
Prayer: With love and light we seek to shine in this time of bright sadness. We remember you’re example of confident suffering and uncompromising love. Infuse us with every element of the creative Word.
Action: Meditate on the various temptations of
Make your responses audibly and publicly in this time of bright Sadness.