The Day After…Ashes

I didn’t grow up with Ash Wednesday services where someone touched my forehead with grace and traced the form of a cross out of ashes from Palm Sunday.  I knew nothing of the ritual or the meaning or why I would come to a place of wanting for it.  But here I am.

img_5672We feasted on pancakes (or spinach), syrup and blueberries and jazz and Holy Communion on Tuesday.  In some conversations it was called “Fat Tuesday”. In our context at church, it was called “Shrove Tuesday”. And in many contexts all we can hear is people shouting: “Mardi Gras!” Of course there was king cake in the bakeries…

We returned on Wednesday to remember how deeply we need the love and grace of Jesus in our lives. We remembered….”we are dust and to dust we will return”.  We proclaimed: “Repent! And remember the Gospel!”

Photo by Melinda Britt. @The Abbey of Gethsemani. The Walk to the Statues.

We were, for that one hour of worship on Wednesday, not pretending to be perfect or all together or anything other than our own messy selves in need of a God that can take us as we are, and keep breathing into us new life that helps us become all we are created to be.  We gathered with our imperfect hearts and asked the God of heaven to meet us there.

So what is that? Why do we do it and why are we doing it in 2020?  We are more than a broken people. Yes, we are broken. And yes, we are a called people.  We are not content with the way things are in our own lives or in the world.  Our relationships are superficial. Our souls are crying out for connection. Our loneliness and isolation are destroying the most beautiful part of our humanity: to be in relationship with each other and with our Creator.

img_9687God is beckoning us to draw near.  We need each other on this journey. Don’t go the way alone…let’s go together. We don’t have to know all the details of what this looks like.  But how about we do it? How about we go “all in” for this season and just decide – every day – from wherever we are – to seek God with everything we can?  We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Jesus encouraged us to just let go and follow where God is leading. What if we just do it?   Will you do it?

Lent begins a season of preparation and discernment for 40 days leading up to Easter. It is more than a goal or giving up sugar. It is about taking time to ask yourself and God: “where am I in this vision of God?” “Am I content or is there something stirring in me that says, ‘there is so much more’? How do I follow that voice of the resurrected Christ?

We were pondering, on Ash Wednesday….
We are thinking, on the day after ashes…
We are taking…the deeper step.
We want others to come with us.
If you are willing…
To just go “all in” for 40 days.
Seek God.
Believe that Jesus Christ accomplished all in the resurrection.
Repent fully.
Forgive graciously.
Trust completely.
Let’s go “all in” and see what God will do. Seek. Ask. Get humble. Get ready.
Let’s go together.

Prayer
God, we don’t need another ritual or program; we have many of those. We need YOU. We see your Spirit moving in new ways – in places we didn’t expect – in moments that cause our hearts to skip a beat. What are you doing? How do we join you? How do we do something we have never done before?  We don’t know; but you do know.  We are going to trust you. Now. Completely. We are yours. “Let our kingdoms fall.”  Let’s go together…

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