yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. i grew up in a denomination that did not celebrate Lent. i don’t know if we were so afraid of Catholicism that we just ran the other way or what. we also didn’t talk too much about the Holy Spirit(i guess the charismatic gifts are scary)
i remember my Episcopalian and Catholic friends having smudges on their foreheads. i asked what it was about, but nobody could really explain it. i just knew they gave up things that they probably shouldn’t have been doing anyway for a month or so before Easter (the only holiday where it is perfectly acceptable to dress the whole family in pastels) oh, and because of Lent, we had fish patties on Friday at school.
yesterday, i took part in my very first Ash Wednesday service. our pastor placed the symbol of the cross on my forehead with ashes made from last years Palm Sunday palms. it was a very solemn service. i had been praying about what to “give up” for Lent and the day before had decided to abstain from Facebook and Twitter for 40 days (even though Lenten rules let you break your fast on Sundays, i will not be doing so). this was difficult for me as i keep in touch with many of my distant friends through both of those mediums, but i wanted to give up something that would be difficult.
a lot of people don’t understand that, they say things like, “I’m going to DO things during Lent, not give things up….Jesus was about doing”. they seem to forget that very same Jesus went into the desert for 40 days to fast, and that He was probably in the practice of fasting and self-sacrifice. i think the beauty of giving something up is replacing it with something else. i for one am going to read all of the Gospels during this 40 days. i’m going to spend my time WITH Jesus. reading His words and applying them in my life. and i’m going to put my phone down since i removed all of the FB and twitter apps from it and spend that time with my family. i’m hoping this time will give me some perspective on better use of my social media time.
here is the reason for Lent from our service yesterday:
Long ago Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with crowds shouting praise and children waving palms. Yet the crowds quickly turned against Jesus. Likewise, our Palm Sunday “hosannas” welcoming Jesus as our Savior are often followed by our rejection of Christ as Lord of our lives. We betray Christ to the derision of the world. Our actions condemn Christ’s chosen way of saving the world through love instead of force. So, today and in this season of Lent, we repent. With the ashes from our past failure, we turn once more to be marked by Jesus’ cross in the hope that Jesus Christ will forever be both Savior and Lord of our lives. Welcome to this time of self-examination and prayer. God loves you and wants you to turn in faith to receive powerful life in the Holy Spirit.
All are invited into a deeper commitment to Christ through this Lenten season. We invite you to consider how you might observe this time with intentional discipleship. You might want to participate in a fast from particular luxuries, material consumerism or various forms of entertainment, and take each opportunity to refrain as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice. You might want to add a spiritual discipline such as morning or evening Bible reading or daily prayer for our, church, community or world. Lenten disciplines also focus us outwardly in actions of service and compassion. What might you do this season for others? Please prayerfully consider your call for this season and offer your commitment to God in prayer.