Lessons in Light . . . Shifting our Perception of Lent
by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
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As lesson 323 in A Course in Miracles says, “I gladly make the ‘sacrifice’ of fear.” If the idea of releasing fear and sacrifice appeal to you, then perhaps we can use the traditional time of Lent as a way to do just that. The Course invites us to look with a new vision, guided by the Holy Spirit, to view the ideas of Christianity in a new light. Not one that separates us from each other, but one that unites us in healing. Therefore, during this time that leads up to Easter, which is referred to as the Lenten season, we are offering a series entitled, Lessons in Light. Why even deal with Lent, since the Course does not speak about it? Well, while it may not say the word, it does address the concept that is the focus of Lent, and an important one it is: sacrifice. So, as most in the western world might approach this time from the perspective of sacrifice, perhaps we can offer an alternative: light!
In the Course, light represents knowledge or truth and can be radiated into this world. Just as the light of the sun causes life to exist on this planet so does the light we radiate allow others to realize their true life purpose and thereby allow us to know it as well. So, we symbolically allow our light to shine during this time of Lent so the darkness and illusion of sacrifice may be shone away.
In the Christian tradition, Lent is a time of fasting and penitence that begins with Ash Wednesday and continues until Easter. It is a time of sacrificing something we value, such as a certain type of food, a particular activity, etc., so that we might be closer to God, become more holy, and so on. In this scenario, God’s love is seen as something we must bargain for, as the Course says, “giving to get” (T-4.II.6:5), which is the central belief of the ego’s thought system. “When you associate giving with sacrifice, you give only because you believe that you are somehow getting something better, and can therefore do without the thing you give.”(ibid)
Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance there is no sacrifice, for there is nothing to pay or atone for. We are God’s perfect children — heirs to His kingdom. In His presence, all pain is healed and all thought of loss is met with peace. We are asked only to make the “sacrifice” of sacrifice (of suffering, sadness, anxiety, doubt, etc.) and to allow God’s love and light to come streaming into our awareness.
Therefore, let us use this time of Lent as a symbolic way of releasing the idea of sacrifice — a world of suffering and pain — and to learn to live in the world while not being of the world. The Course says that truth does not demand that we give up the world, for that would appear as sacrifice if we still value it, nor does it advocate we cherish the world. It invites us to walk a path that is between these two, one that leads away from loss, sacrifice and deprivation. To follow this path, we are asked to step back and let Him lead the way. We are asked to think of Him a while each day, so that He may speak to us and tell us of His limitless love and great trust. (Lesson 155, paraphrased)
This is our dedication as we begin these Lessons in Light together, that we may place into God’s hands the pain, fear, worry, suffering, sickness and burdens of life, so that we may awaken to the resurrected child of God we truly are. As the mythical bird, the Phoenix, arose out of the ashes, we too dust off the years of sacrifice by affirming our desire to “step back and let Him lead the way.”
These lessons will be discussed as part of the Center’s weekly Wednesday night study group beginning on March 1, 2017. These meetings are recorded and available on CD or mp3 download and also live streamed. For information, see our Weekly Meeting Page
Lessons in Light
1st Week of Light – Ash Wednesday (March 1st), Workbook Lesson 157:
“Into His Presence would I enter now.”
This is our dedication, to enter into God’s presence and allow Him to lead the way. This awareness and willingness becomes a blessing that touches everyone we meet, think of, or who thinks of us. It becomes a vision that can truly transform this world and assure us that peace and healing are possible, for it is God’s will for us.
2nd Week of Light (March 8th), Workbook Lesson 93:
“Light and joy and peace abide in me.”
“Salvation requires the acceptance of but one thought; — you are as God created you, not what you made of yourself. …Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God.” We have forgotten our true identity and made a self which contradicts God’s opinion. It is time for us to stop believing in a lie and join our will with God’s Will. This is our resurrection, our salvation and the world’s.
3rd Week of Light (March 15th), Workbook Lesson 46:
“God is the Love in which I forgive.”
“God does not forgive because He has never condemned,” but through His love we find the strength to look at the pains of our lives and only see the calls for love. And as we recognize the “pains” for what they are, we recognize our innocence and that of all our brothers.
4th Week of Light (March 22nd), Workbook Lesson 68
“Love holds no grievances.”
“You who were created by Love like Itself can hold no grievances and know your Self.” Therefore, if we are to know God’s gifts and help for us, we must be willing to “sacrifice” grievances. “Love holds no grievances. I would wake to my Self by laying all my grievances aside and wakening in Him.”
5th Week of Light (March 29th), Workbook Lesson 34:
“I could see peace instead of this.”
“Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward. It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.” It is our choice to experience peace!
6th Week of Light (April 5th), Workbook Lesson 47:
“God is the strength in which I trust.”
Our own strength has failed us, but God is our safety and strength in every circumstance. “Use it [this thought] as your answer to any disturbance. Remember that peace is your right, because you are giving your trust to the strength of God.”
7th Week of Light (April 12th), Workbook Lesson 50:
“I am sustained by the Love of God.”
“Put not your faith in illusions. They will fail you. Put all your faith in the Love of God within you; eternal, changeless and forever unfailing. This is the answer to whatever confronts you today.”
Here’s what others have said about the series . . .
“The study group Lessons in Light have been enormously and powerfully helpful to me. My sinlessness is guaranteed by God is a message just for me. I didn’t realize how much guilt and unworthiness I was still holding onto until I had a light bulb moment when I suddenly knew that the reason I have been feeling stuck lately is because I have not been as accepting and loving toward myself as I should be. My ego is still in undeserving mode. It is all tying in together to help me free myself from some childhood and early adult thinking. Thank you and the group for being so instrumental in helping me move past my past.
–– S.G., Wisconsin
“The Lessons in Light series in the study group sessions have made this season very memorable for me. Thank you for your insights and please thank the group for their willingness and courage to share with me, and other listeners their struggles and miracles. Since hearing the workbook lessons on grievances, I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions having images of people with whom I have grievances come to mind. I am then able to ask for help to see them as friends and for our Spirits to be seen as one. It is working! As a result I am feeling such joy! Thank you all for helping find this joy and peace.
–– M.R., Illinois
“These lessons with Beverly have been so helpful. All of the Lenten lessons have been so meaningful — especially this one: “I could see Peace instead of this.” I have been using this lesson each day….it makes so much sense to me. Thanks!
–– P.R., Georgia
“Just finished mp3 on “I can see peace instead of this.” Beverly, I don’t remember anyone tying together the five workbook lessons in the Lenten series or any workbook lessons from the Course like you did. All I can say is WOW, it held a very deep meaning to me. Thank you.
–– M.G., Georgia
“This is my fifth season listening to Beverly go through the Lenten Lessons. It is a wonderful opportunity to use this time to give up stuff that does not serve us anymore. I am amazed at what rolls out of Beverly when she teaches. She may plan a general lesson but those comments simply come, a wonderful orator and leader and a good listener.
–– K.S., Massachusetts
“These are very timely lessons for me. I have listened to the GRIEVANCES lesson about 6 times! Thanks so much for all you do.
–– M.M., Florida