Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Observing Ash Wednesday & Lent

February 21 is Ash Wednesday. This marks the beginning of Lent (a season of serious reflection and repentance), which leads up to the celebration of Easter (the resurrection of Jesus Christ).

Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and many Lutherans primarily observe the practices of Ash Wednesday and Lent. Some Methodists and Presbyterians have also adopted it. Though I’m not a member of any of the above-mentioned Christian groups, an Episcopalian friend introduced me to the practice about five years ago. Now it is a meaningful part of my experience of God.

Many will choose to fast on Ash Wednesday, pray, worship and receive a mark of ashes on their forehead as a sign of their repentance. The believer will wear the mark of ashes until sunset.

I’m not a very liturgical person but I find the fasting, worshiping and receiving the mark of ashes important. I spend a good bit of my life sharing with others the good news about Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of sin, redemption and the promise of heaven are very good news. However, unless you know what the bad news is, good news will not be comprehended.

The bad news is that every one of us has fallen short of God’s standards for how life should be lived. To miss God’s mark is so serious it results in a consequence of one being judged by God, condemned forever by God and separated from God. That separation from God is commonly called Hell. The Bible says that Hell is everyone’s destiny unless he or she receives God’s free gift of redemption.

God’s free gift of redemption was very expensive as it cost Jesus Christ His life. I receive the gift of redemption by accepting the sacrifice of Christ by faith and committing to follow Jesus Christ as His disciple all the days of my life.

As it stands, I’ve never lived life better than I do today. I love better, serve, give, forgive and care for others better than ever. Ash Wednesday and Lent don’t allow me to feel pride about that because I’m reminded that with all of my growth and progress, I still haven’t come far enough to meet God’s standard. I’m still a sinner in need of a savior and Jesus Christ is my Savior.

Ash Wednesday I’ll fast from food and seek to fill my heart freshly with the presence of Christ. During the 40 days of Lent I’ll look for ways that God wants my life to further grow and mature into Christlikeness. I’ll seek to give up anything that stands in the way of Christ being formed in me.

When Easter arrives on April 8, the season of preparation will have my heart soaring with praise and gratitude for how good the good news is that Jesus is risen!


Anonymous said...

Good comments. Taking everything into consideration. Seems like in the business world -- bring up, correct (bring down), and then bring up. Hope you are enlightened this season.

Christina said...

As a child I observed Ash Wednesday and as an adult I have continued to set this day apart from being just an “ordinary day”. Fasting draws my heart and mind to God and from there back to self for honest reflection and from there thoughts on what my purpose here is for, ect … Over the years I have replaced the “giving something up” during Lent to “doing something” for the Lord, like selfless acts of kindness, interceeding for others…something!

Today I fasted and remembered and prayed for friends and family, today I tried to be mindful of all that Christ has given to me, not just His life, His forgiveness, His Compassion but His Holy Spirit. IT is by His Spirit that I have the ability to Love others as He loved me…and I need to rely on His Spirit to have compassion on those whom He loves, to be merciful, and faithful. Today I played a worship CD twice through, and lifted my hands in Praise …because He is the Savior of my life…He died and rose again so I could Live a Fruitful Life, (and have the Fruit of the Spirit) so I could be His Child, so I could Know Him more, and share what I know…I pray I am able to Love more, to give more…not out of sacrafice but out of Love for Him. I am grateful to have a church family at MeadowBrook, today I remembered them in prayer.

Scott Brewer said...

Ash Wednesday was a very good day for me. There were 6 of us from my small group Bible study that decided to fast together and pray for one another throughout the day.

Truly it was a day of heightened awareness of God's presence and work. Every time I fast I'm amazed at how powerful the practice can be.