I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.
–The Book of Common Prayer
“The season begins as we receive the symbolic gesture of the imposition of ashes on our foreheads and acknowledge our human finiteness and mortality. No matter who we think we are, the traditions of Ash Wednesday remind us that “you are dust and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) This is not meant to be morbid, it is just meant to confront our grandiosity and help us to stay in touch with the real human condition that we all share.
Ash Wednesday also initiates a season of acknowledging our sinfulness. In very intentional ways, we invite God to search us and know us and (eventually) to lead us into resurrection life. The ashes marking our foreheads carry the same meaning contained in the Old Testament practice of covering oneself with ashes: they are an outward sign of an inward repentance and mourning as we become aware of our sin. This, too, is good for us because we live in so much denial. Facing our sin in the shadow of Christ’s cross and impending resurrection is the healthiest way to deal with our sin.” Read full post HERE
Isaiah 25:1; John 1:1-2
The Lenten season is a time of preparation, repentance, fasting and self-denial in which we make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ passion and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
You may be familiar with the outward aspects of Lent: ashes on foreheads, conversation about giving up sugar or caffeine or TV. But Lent, like spiritual life in general, is not merely external. You could, of course, just decide that you are not going to drink coffee for forty days and be done with it, but to do so would be to deprive yourself of far more than coffee. You would miss something that God wants to do in you this season.
When considering what to give up for Lent, begin with whatever habits or things lie at the heart of your consumer lifestyle. Forsake them for the sake of being consumed by the God-life. Lent is not about what we do for Christ. It is about plumbing the depths of what he has done for us.
(Journey to the Cross: Readings and Devotions for Lent, pp. 11-12)
As we prepare for the Lent season, what measures will you take to reorient your life around the things of God during this Lent season? What will you give up? What will you add?
At the onset of Jesus’ ministry, John announced his coming in fulfillment of Isaiah 40:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
This is the cry of Lent: Prepare the way of the Lord! Make room for him in your thoughts and activities and affections.
God of exodus and wilderness, God of refuge and help, hear us now as we make our confession to you. In times of temptation we forget what you have done for us. You give us everything we need, yet we often remain unsatisfied. You show us the way we are to follow, yet we often continue on the path of self-indulgence and self-centeredness. Forgive us, we pray. We ask for your direction, your patience, your love, in the name of Jesus Christ, who, in spite of his temptations, was faithful to your saving Word. Amen. [WSB]