Ash Wednesday: Beginning Again
-Rev Melissa Fain-
There’s a season for everything
and a time for every matter under the heavens.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 CEB
I was standing in the official Thomas Kincaid art gallery in Savannah, Georgia years ago. Lights were placed directly on the canvas, and every painting was the idyllic image. One of the attendants walked up to me staring at a painting, and said, “We light them up like this because they glow.” It was true. Kincaid knew how to make paintings look like light was coming from them. It was amazing how perfectly he captured something that couldn’t really be seen. These were his images of heaven, and his heaven had no dying leaves, no slushy snow, and no darkness. To me, it was also amazing how this man couldn’t see the beauty in the darkness.
When I heard the news that Kincaid had committed suicide my heart wept. We found out he was living with depression. He knew the darkness. He lived within it. If anyone needed to find the beauty beyond the idyllic, it was him. He made his works glow because he could not glow himself.
That’s a sad story, but it’s a story within life. There is a season for everything under heaven and earth. There is a time to be happy, and there is a time to be sad. There is a time for planting, and a time to gather crops. There is a time for war and a time for peace. Our world is cyclical. Our faith is the same. Worship is more than praising and thanking God. Sometimes we are Job on the ash heap crying out in despair. There comes a time when we must face death to find new life.
Ash Wednesday takes the ashes of the previous year, and reminds us that we are to walk with Christ to the cross to find new life. There’s a beauty in that walk as dark as it is. We must explore the shadows of our faith, because the shadows remind us of how bright the light really is.
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Oh God of heaven and earth, walk with us in this time of contemplation. Help us see the beauty in all of creation. Help us as we begin this season.
Rev Melissa Fain is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.) She currently serves as the Senior Minister at Fig Tree Christian. Her passion is new church planting and revitalization. Fig Tree is the second big church plant she has been part of. Melissa enjoys all forms of the arts, having a degree in vocal music from Kennesaw State University. She also graduated from Candler School of Theology in the Fall of 2010, and has worked in Christian settings since 1999. Melissa is a mother of two wonderful children, and the wife to a very talented illustrator.