Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. It is the beginning of the season of Lent. I made my way again this year to Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church. While last year I went alone, this year my wife and 4 friends joined me for this time.
Ash Wednesday is an odd sort of holiday. It would be better to call it a holy-day as it is just not a typical sort of holiday. I wished a friend a Mournful Ash Wednesday yesterday, because wishing them a happy one just seems to be wrong.
Ash Wednesday is a yearly reminder of our own mortality. It reminds us that out of the dust of the earth God fashioned a man and breathed life into him. When that life is taken back, all that is left is the dust we were formed from. I appreciate the focus on reflection in the “celebration” of day.
As part of the Ash Wednesday service we recited a general confession of sin and receive an assurance of forgiveness. I appreciate this. I can easily go barreling through a day with out thinking. Such a pause to reflect and applying God’s grace of forgiveness is both sobering and liberating.
Ash Wednesday ushers us into a 40 day period of preparation. The focus this year at Threshold Church where my family and I attend, will be on prayer, fasting and giving to the poor. This seems to be a wonderful way to prepare to walk with Jesus on the road to Jerusalem, the cross and resurrection that we remember during Holy Week.
It is typical to give up something for Lent. This year I am giving up soda. I have recently heard about a tradition: taking up something during Lent. This too seems to be a good way of preparation. This year I have taken up a book to read “The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscoing our Hidden Life in God” by Dallas Willard, and will be spending an increased time in spiritual exercises such as prayer, meditation, journaling and fasting.
Here are a couple of online resources I will be using this Lent …
A prayer of confession for lent. https://mynotesalongtheway.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/confession-for-lent/
A daily guided time of scripture meditation and prayer. http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/
Hyaets Lenten Guide group on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_139584172775054&ap=1