Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bright Sadness-The First Sunday of Lent

In Great Lent, Alexander Schmemann description of a Lenten service in the Orthodox church as a "Bright Sadness" perfectly captured the mood of our service at the Church of The Good Samaritan, today on the first Sunday of Lent. Schmemann writes that "a certain quiet sadness permeates the service..." and that was certainly true as our service began not with its usual triumphant choral entry but silence as our pastor prayed the Decalogue (BCP p. 350). I had never prayed the 10 commandments before. As we moved through the commandments, the Spirit revealed that even in my seemingly small sins, I daily break these commands. Then when we moved not to the typical Gloria but a beautiful arrangement of the Kyrie (S96), I was comforted and gladdened to join in with the Church's song: "Lord, Have Mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy."
But it is then that a change begins to take place in the service as Schmemann

Little by little we begin to understand, or rather to feel, that this
sadness is indeed "bright," that a mysterious transformation is about to take
place in us. It is as if we were reaching a place to which the noises and the
fuss of life, of the street, of all that which usually fills our days and even
nights, have no access--a place where they have no power. All that which seemed
so tremendously important to us as to fill our mind, that state of anxiety which
has virtually become our second nature, disappear somewhere and we begin to feel
free, light and happy. It is not the noisy and superficial happiness which comes
and goes twenty times a day and is so fragile and fugitive; it is a deep
happiness which comes not from a single and particular reason but from our sould
having in the words of Dostoevsky, touches "another world."

This touch from another world is from a loving Father who has promised that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:8,9). Though Lent is journey and often a hard one, the end of the road is sure: we are ever being led from the Cross to the Grave to the Resurrection. "A deep happiness" indeed!

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