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Seen, heard and looked at

A Lent Reflection for February 15 by Rev. Elizabeth McColl

Lectionary reading for 02/15/2023:. Psalm 25:1- 10; Daniel 9:1-14; 1 John 1:3-10

Selected passage for reflection: 1 John 1:3-10


1 John 1:3-10  NRSV

What we have seen and heard we also declare to you so that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true;  but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


There are two themes in this passage which intrigue me:  the contrasts of light and dark and how our senses are engaged in experiencing God. The first is obvious; the latter, not so apparent. Light and dark is explored throughout John’s gospel and in this letter, he’s very clear: walk in the light. But what does that mean? Surely dark and darkness cannot be all bad? Before birth, creatures are in the darkness and protection of a womb. Good and deep sleep is easier when one is completely in the dark. We can’t see galaxies without surrounding darkness and the first light of dawn still has some darkness and dusk brings a mixture of light fading into dark. So I wonder if contrasts of light and dark are related to the second theme: what we have seen and heard? Earlier in this letter, John talks about other senses which have experienced the living Christ: our hands have touched, and our eyes have looked at. The writer is helping us to think about what we experience through our bodies. 

We are generally used to engaging our intellect as we live as Christ followers, but not so aware of how our bodies experience our surroundings unless we really engage our senses and turn our focus on what is in our immediate surroundings. 


Make a point of going outside and be aware of your surroundings. Where is the light (or dark)? Do you see anything around you which brings more light or dark? Be aware of what you see and hear. Go for a walk with no tech in your ears or your hands. Allow your senses to take in what is with you during this time. What do you experience? Can you bring your attention into prayer as you walk? Depending on the time of day, you may be aware of fading or growing light. Does this change what you see, hear, feel or even taste? 


Lord, in this time of Lent, as we experience the change of seasons, call our attention to what is happening in our senses, and the growing physical light around us. May this remind us of your continual presence with us. Amen.

About the Author

Elizabeth is an ordained pastor and vocationally a musician and educator, teaching across primary and secondary schools in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh.  working with under-resourced young people using music as a way to social change and educational justice. She loves to spend time in wide open spaces outdoors whether that’s in her home city or when she gets to travel across the water. Yoga has become something of an obsession over the past few years. 

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I think I have often thought about faith and belief with my mind. So I like the idea of just receiving with the sense and considering how that speaks to our faith and our beliefs. Thank you for the challenge to step outside and see what we see.

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