Introduction to the 2019 Ascension Lenten Devotional

by Matthew Snow
W

hat is a symbol? It might be defined as one thing that stands in for another thing; something that represents something else that is not inherent in it. We are surrounded by symbols; we move through the world guided by symbols. They help us organize our lives; they aid us in our ability to perceive the world and respond to it. Traffic lights are symbols. We navigate the internet through symbols. Words are symbols.

And for our ancestors the natural world, too, was full of symbols — the world then being a much more enchanted place than it appears to us today. Every bird was the possible messenger from a god; every flutter of a leaf a signal from another realm. But their conscience was also more primitive than ours and far more fragmented. They perceived the conscience as being somewhere outside of themselves. And when it spoke, it wasn’t their own higher selves speaking, but rather the voice of gods advising them, warning them and guiding them. But as the conscience developed and evolved it became more integrated and merged into a single entity. And the conscience, the voice of god, became relocated from outside of themselves to somewhere inside of each individual.

And this was one of Jesus’s many messages; that consciousness is inside each of us; and if consciousness is God then God is inside of each of us. He showed us a new kind of consciousness: Christ Consciousness.

This little booklet is filled with stories that themselves are replete with symbols. These stories guided people centuries ago; they continue to guide us now. They are warning us to pay attention and stay alert. The world is quivering with redemptive potential. Everywhere there are symbols. One thing that stands in for another thing. Something that represents something else that is not inherent in it.

I have attempted to make the artwork and design reflect that. Each week of Lent has its own painting. They, too, are symbols. Each page is a surprise. Some of the designs are more effective than others; some can be quite startling. It is an attempt to shock the reader into viewing the gospels in a new and perhaps startling way. I hope you find it of interest.

artwork for Ash Wednesday and days following