The Brilliance Lenten Reflections
This Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, as it is Ash Wednesday. As we enter into this season of Lent to prepare our hearts in reflection on the passion week of Christ and Easter, I think about the value of this season of lament that is found in the liturgical calendar. In recent years, I’ve come to really value this season of Lent as a space to lament and reflect on God’s presence with us in pain. This season has helped me to understand the depth of God’s love and presence with us, especially in hardship. In a Christian culture where pain is sometimes minimized as we seek to constantly be in a celebratory mode, I am grateful for the space to be able to wrestle with the pain that is found in the season of Lent.
Last Saturday night, I watched a band that I really enjoy, The Brilliance, perform at Biola. The first time I saw them was when they opened for Gungor two years ago. I remember being at that concert, during a time of grieving a dear friend’s passing. It was one of those rough days – one of those days that I didn’t want to get out of bed and just wanted to crawl into a hole forever. Despite my tendency to withdraw and hide, I knew that going to this concert would be good for my soul – being around good people and listening to good music. So I went, and it was so beneficial and nourishing for me. Two years later, I’m in a different place, but I am still moved to tears by the beauty, richness, and vulnerability of their music.
I appreciate that The Brilliance makes music around the liturgical calendar as they have albums surrounding Advent and Lent. Their Lent album wrestles with the very real experiences of death, mortality, and pain. With the artistry of the piano and the richness of the string trio of cello, viola, and violin, with the rest of the band and vocals, they provide a contemplative and reflective space, while also rocking out. Listening to David Gungor share about this album, and hearing that it was written out of a time of grieving his grandfather’s dying of lung cancer, it gives me a deeper appreciation to see the context of this album. I can feel the depth and reality of this pain that comes from this experience. While I disagree with some of their views of theology that come out in some of their music, I still very much appreciate the beauty of their music and art form that gives an expression to lament. This articulation of lament is the thing that ultimately resonates with me as it gives me words to express the deep feelings of sorrow and pain in honesty to God. The album begins with a song called “Dust We Are and Shall Return” which is a reflection of our mortality. The last song on their Lent album called, “Have You Forsaken Me?” echoes Jesus’ cry on the cross as it repeats His plea “Oh God, have you forsaken me?” starting with just the piano and quiet vocals, which slowly builds, adding the strings, then goes into the full-blown band with a heart-wrenching cry. It gives a musical expression to this feeling of abandonment that Christ experiences on the cross.
It’s comforting to know as I reflect on Christ and His suffering during this Lenten season, that He fully understands our pain as He suffered for us. As we enter into this season, may we know and experience the reality of the comfort that is found in Christ, as He is our great High Priest, who can empathize with us.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)