“From the Hart” Devotional for March 28, 2024

“Sing to the Lord a New Song”
by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
Psalm 96:1-3

Last week, we celebrated the first day of spring and this week is Holy Week: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. On Thursday, we will say a prayer of confession, share in Holy Communion, and watch as the Altar is stripped. The sanctuary will feel empty when we depart that night. It is that emptiness that will set the stage for our own personal reflection and time for considering where we may have missed the mark in following Christ.

We will return the next evening for the Good Friday Service. As is our tradition at Desert Spring Church, this service will end with the Tenebrae Service – a service of darkness. We will listen as the seven last words (phrases) of Christ are spoken. As the accounting of Christ’s final time on earth is read aloud, candles will be extinguished one by one until we are all in darkness. We will end as we always do, by singing “Were you There”, a song that takes us through the events of Jesus death from the cross to the tomb. We will be asked to leave in silence. Again, a time for our own personal reflection. A time to contemplate the sacrifice that Christ made for us. We will not return to the sanctuary again until Easter Sunday where we will move from emptiness to fullness, from death to life, from despair to hope, and from silence to song.

Like spring, Easter is a time for celebrating new life. When we walk into the sanctuary on Easter morning, the stark room that we left on Friday will be filled with beautiful Easter lilies. Where people stood dressed in black on Friday, we will see women in bright dresses and children in crisp new Easter outfits. But the biggest sign of new life will be in the music. Friday evening, we will sing of Christ’s death and on Sunday morning we will sing of his resurrection and the new life that we have in him. I can hear it now, the entire congregation singing together “Christ the Lord is Risen Today, A-a-a-a-a-aleluia!!” What a beautiful sound that will be. What a wonderful day that will be.

None of it would be felt or understood quite the same were it not for the darkness that came before it. In order to appreciate the miracle of Easter, we have to contemplate the road before it. We have to allow ourselves to sit in the darkness and feel the death to fully experience the love and light that comes in Christ’s resurrection. So, I invite you into the darkness. I invite you to be still, to be silent, and to be solemn as you wait for Easter morning.

I invited you to consider the following:

Where do you see darkness in the world today?
What corners of your own heart still crave God’s light?
How are you different than you were on the first day of Lent?
Where else do you see signs of life ready to break through in your life?
How will you keep the excitement of Easter morning alive in your home, office, neighborhood, and church?

Dear Lord,
As the season of Lent comes to a close, let miracle of Easter continue to live in my heart and show in my actions. When I am faced with dark times and struggles in the days to come, help me to remember that the light always comes. Your light is never far from even the darkest places in my life. Thank you for the sacrifice that you made on the cross and promise of light that came with it.