Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.(Genesis 1:3-4, NRSV)
I’ve been following the ritual since the summer of 1981. Forty-eight Sunday mornings a year, give-or-take one or two, I am walking through the hallways of a church at 6:00 a.m. … for all but four of those years, I am walking the halls of St. Peter’s church. For more than half of those Sundays each year, the church is dark … just the way I like it. I learned this practice from my internship supervisor and pastoral mentor, Richard Geib, our pastor emeritus at St. Peter’s. In 1981 while I was on internship here, he was the one who clued me into the beauty of the church during the early morning hours when the sun was just rising. I’ve been observing the practice ever since.
I typically self-describe myself as someone who loves the dark. But what I really love about the dark, is being awake when the first glow of morning begins to warm the sky … or when the first beams of sunlight begin to crack the horizon … or when the moon fades from the night sky as the sun prepares to rise in the east. I try to imagine the first light of creation …the first banishing of the darkness … the blanket of warmth God wrapped around his new creation … God’s first smile upon all he had made, and the goodness that radiated from it all. And in doing so, I sense God’s gift of joy sneaking past the blindness caused by my drab routines in life, reminding me of the beauty of the earth and all that is in it.
Do you have any rituals that are close to your heart? Maybe they revolve around a different aspect of creation … digging in your garden and watching God’s fertile power unveiled before your very eyes … watching a small child grow and seeing the potency of human life in its most seminal form … maybe it is listening to a particular work of musical art, and allowing it to transport you to a place of beauty that God has fashioned, but which the composer has unlocked for you. Whatever your potent rituals may be, I invite you to celebrate them today and every day this week. Strive to strip away the baffles that shield you from God’s joy and the buffers that drown out God’s word of life-giving creative power. Celebrate what God has done for you today … allow it to color the landscape of the rest of your waking moments today … and lay your head upon your pillow this evening, assured that God’s revelatory power will greet you again tomorrow … if you will allow it.