Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season. We receive ashes as a sign of humility (from dust we came, to dust we return). Lent is a time to remember themes like seek, call, forsake, and return.
What is Lent but a reminder that God has demands on the world, our society, and our hearts, and in our relationships. What are these demands? Isaiah 58 says that God wants the kind of lenten season where we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and set the oppressed free. God wants us to be people of justice and equity, where we receive our own dignity and dignify others.
This season we’re entering into is calling us to consider the way we’re compromising ourselves in light of competing voices that want our attention. Such competing voices–when listened to and obeyed–leave us high and dry, empty and lonely.
Jesus is constantly asking people “What are you going after? What do you really want?” Lent is calling us back to a life of discipline and obedience, and to remember our true Christian Identity: that Christ came into this world to rescue and renew so that justice, beauty, wholeness, and reconciliation might be made possible and accessible through Him.
And when we face our own need for healing, forgiveness, or a fresh start, we find that the Psalms describe God as the one who has demands but is also ready to lavish us with grace. And what is grace? Psalm 103 reminds us:
- The lord compassionate and gracious
- Abounding in love
- He doesn’t accuse, shame, blame, or judge
- He doesn’t hold grudges and resentments, or get even with us
- His love is as great as the heavens above the earth
- He is quick to remove our shame and guilt
- He is the God who has his arm around you with encouragement, and his finger in your chest calling you to live better!
The ashes remind us that life will end because from dust we came and to dust we return. Yet dust, when in God’s hands, is shaped and formed, and given life by his Breath!
God is making an invitation to you and I today, during is lenten season, to confess our brokenness, turn to him, and receive new life for this new season. May He breathe into us new life. May He give life to our dust lives.
Fasting during Lent is one form of a spiritual discipline to re-habit our ways of being with God, each other, and our inner selves. A few disciplines include (but are not limited to):
- Food Fasting. Abstaining from lunch to cultivate a hunger for God.
- Social Media Fast. Abstaining from all social media apps to cultivate good time management and be more mindful.
- Scripture Reading and Prayer. This is a combination of reading the daily scriptures regarding Lent and saying a prayer.
- Prayer of Examen. Specific form of a prayer at the end of the day to examine God’s presence and our response (or lack of it).
- Communal Scripture Study and Prayer.