This week I came across the idea of Bright Sadness. It’s a really beautiful way of describing what Lent is all about.

On one hand Lent is somber. We think about how far we often wander from the path. Things go wrong, we damage ourselves, we hurt one another, we mess up creation. Life feels empty, relationships break-down and there is pain. Traditional services and liturgy focus on repentance – our need to get back on track. We think about Jesus, completely alone, fasting in the wilderness. Like Him, we try to remove all the things that distract us so that we can focus on our need for God.

On the other hand, we are reminded of God’s amazing love. He is the one who comes scampering down the road towards us like the father in the story of the prodigal son, flinging His arms around us and welcoming us home. We bathe in His grace and forgiveness. We remember that He restores us – putting our lives back together by His healing presence. Out of those feelings of pain and emptiness we begin to know His beautiful light and peace.

Bright sadness helps us to remember that life is so often a mixture of grief and joy, hope and lament. Lent gets us ready for Easter where God is so powerfully at work in death and resurrection.

And, as we begin Lent in 2021, these ideas are so helpful as we remember our sisters and brothers in Myanmar. There is so much to grieve and lament about what is happening. But, there is incredible hope too - the peaceful protests, the public resistance and refusal to accept the injustice. Join with us in bright sadness as you read the following eyewitness accounts, the current situation means that, for their safety we will keep their identities anonymous. Please continue to partner with us for peace.

“Suddenly at 9:45pm I heard a noise. Someone was beating a strange rhythm on an iron bucket – like a warning. Within minutes the single sound turned into a thousand and I saw through my window a hundred people gathering in the road where the sound had started. Later I heard that there had been a night raid to arrest people engaged in demonstrations and civil disobedience. However, due to resistance from local people, the police left without arresting anyone. The same thing happened a number of times at night over the weekend.”

“My neighbour who is a local lady came to me and assured me not to worry. I cannot explain my feelings, I am scared but I am also feeling safe. I know that if I face a problem, the only thing I have to do is to make a noise with anything I have and the support is out there.

I can feel that this coup is a shame but at the same time it is a period which is bringing the people of Myanmar close to each other and uniting them together for one cause. Whatever happens, Democracy is inevitable, it is only a matter of time now.”