Having grown up Catholic I vaguely recall Ash Wednesday because going to an extra Mass where oily ashes get rubbed on your forehead sticks with most kids. Other than not eating meat on the six Fridays of Lent it didn’t mean much to me.
Having spent the last 30 years in a brotherhood of churches that don’t formally recognize Ash Wednesday or participate in celebrating it I certainly didn’t gain any insight.
But last night was a first for me!
The small (amazing, wonderful, incredible – really!) church family that I pastor is part of a different brotherhood of churches and are in the habit of celebrating Ash Wednesday with a meal and a special worship service. Since I was responsible to lead the gathering I did some digging to learn about it.
The 40 days of Lent represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying after his baptism. I’d always thought of this as punishment but it was actually a time of preparation. Jesus was drawing closer to the Father and preparing to face Satan’s temptations. I need that!
The ashes serve to remind us that we are formed from dust; that we are finite beings temporarily inhabiting this spinning orb. One day, sooner than any of us realizes, we will stand face-to-face with our Creator. It’s a reminder to pursue all things eternal! I need that!
The ashes also represent repentance just as sack cloth and ashes did in the Old Testament. No matter how hard we try, the stuff of this life creeps into our hearts and minds to compete for our affections. Affections that belong to God alone. This usually happens in small, imperceptible ways. Lent is a call to repent and draw close to God. I need that!
I’ll be honest. I likely never would have investigated Ash Wednesday or Lent had God not put me in a body of believers that celebrate it. But I’m so glad He did! And I’m glad that we never get too old to learn!
Irregardless of your church background or involvement with Lent, I want to invite you to use the next
40 … 39 days to reflect on your relationship with God and prepare for Easter. God’s greatest desire is an intimate relationship with us!
P.S. – Tune in tomorrow for some practical ways to explore where you are with God.