Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.1 Peter 1:22-25
As a young man, Vincent planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor. At one point he risked his own health and sacrificed his own comfort to bring the gospel, clothing, food, and medicine to Borinage, an impoverished mining town in Bulgaria. Vincent was a zealous follower of Christ.
But in his twenties, rejected by a seminary and feeling out of place in his local church, he filled with bitterness, stopped attending church gatherings, and withdrew from family and friends into a life of isolation and art.
Vincent’s belief in God’s love for him flickered but never went out. But he stopped believing God’s people could love him.
We see this most clearly in his famous painting of a small village under a big sky. Vincent depicted the presence of his infinite God with dark blue hues that fill the heavens and earth. He chose yellow to represent the love of God that, for him, radiated from the stars above and streamed from the windows of every home in the valley below.
But one building in the scene is untouched by blue or yellow: the church. Its steeple rises heavenward but its windows spill no light on its neighbors.
For Vincent, and for so many reading these words, the church is associated with pain and not presence. It’s a place where some feel more lost than loved.
Vincent’s life is an empathetic cautionary tale: You’re not the only one who’s been hurt. You’re not alone. But don’t isolate yourself forever, lock yourself away in a prison of resentful unforgiveness. Give the people of God a chance to own mistakes, apologize, learn, and try to make things right – or just better. Give God a chance to love you through us.
And if you can’t do the hard work of making peace with God’s people today, find a place where you can experience the peace of God. For Vincent that was among the poor he ate and sang and danced with, putting his brush on canvas, or staying up late to watch the cypress trees reach heavenward in worship and village lights twinkle out the love of God.
Lent is a time to reflect on the darkness in us and around us as we slowly return to the Light and Love of Easter together.
• What is isolating me from God and others?
• How do I experience the presence and love of God right now?
God, here in the darkness of our own thoughts, feelings, and desires we are all groping for your light. Help us find it today.
What is hiding your light from us? Move it today.
Who has hidden your light from us? Move them today.
How have we turned away from your light? Move us today.
Bring us into your light and into life together.