February 20, 2021
I can remember each year, right around this time, the movie, "The Wizard of Oz" was aired on television. We had all seen it many times and knew the ending. But we still got excited as we sat around the TV to watch it one more time.
Playing the role of Dorothy, Judy Garland sang so beautifully, "Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true." From the "Wizard of Oz." Lyrics by Yip Harbug, Music by Harold Arlen. (Click here to see and hear Judy Garland sing "Over the Rainbow.")
What is really interesting is that the movie is so full of troubles and challenges - the wicked witch, the Tin Man searching for a heart, the Cowardly Lion looking for Courage, the Scarecrow searching for a brain, and Dorothy, searching to find her way home. But this song, "Over the Rainbow," is about a place where there are no troubles or challenges. A place where "dreams really do come true." Heaven is what is being described in this song. If we look carefully at the song, (and some of the verses that were removed from it to save time), it is clear that the land Dorothy is dreaming of is Heaven!
Our first reading from Genesis is all about rainbows and heaven! God points to rainbows as the symbol that God is watching out over us. When we see a rainbow, we are to remember this love God has for us and try to live as God taught us to live. To forgive those who harm us, to love all, and to show our love through our acts of kindness. This is the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus began here on earth that comes to its fullness in heaven, "over the rainbow."
I don't know about you, but for me, that is not always easy. I know how I am supposed to live but lose focus and can miss the mark. I can remain bothered by something that someone else did that was upsetting. I can give it way too much attention. I can allow it to break my stride and slow down my efforts to do good. Jesus knew that it can be this way for us. That is why he gave us his own example of going off to the desert - to take himself away from everyday life for a bit, in order to examine the things that matter most. To look at the things that tempted him and remind himself of how hard he would need to work to push away the temptations and follow the will of God.
Each year, we as Christians step into a desert experience of our own. We call it Lent. Today, on this first Sunday of Lent, it is good for each of to decide how we will enter the desert, identify our most destructive temptations, and commit to setting them aside and in their place, doing the will of God as Jesus did. For example, a person's entry into the desert might be admitting to their own tendency to say negative things. And on this desert experience, they might commit to saying only positive things. Things that offer hope and bring happiness. I am sure that you can think of many examples that apply to you, I know I can!
Maybe as part of your desert experience, you may want to try something you have not done before and attend our Lenten Journey with Deacon Greg Feary at noon on the first three Sunday's of Lent. During these cold days of winter, listen to the presentation, see the images, eat lunch with us and see if that does not bring about a brighter you!
Make the most of this enriching season of Lent as we prepare our hearts to receive the resurrected Christ at Easter.
One last item. I just learned that MGM studios, before they released "The Wizard of Oz" were going to remove the song, "Over the Rainbow" completely, because they thought it made the movie too long. I am glad they did not! You can't fully appreciate the movie without it.
It would be like trying to fully appreciate Easter, without ever properly experiencing Lent! Amen.