Ash Wednesday – the Beginning of Lent

In Liturgy by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

Today is Ash Wednesday. I should have remembered that when the lady came into Starbucks early that morning with what looked like a terrible birthmark on her forehead. “Poor lady,” I thought. Until I looked closer to see the ash-ed Cross.

It was her reminder that humans are just dust, particles with no form or meaning. A good place to begin the Lenten fast – with the idea of our humanity and need for what gives us meaning and direction.

Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent invite us to examine the things to which we give priority and which, resultingly, distract and confuse our attempts to live for Jesus. The Lenten fast is meant to concentrate on these things. Giving up chocolate for Lent, is typical of the careless tip of the hat we give to self-discipline. Give up something as long as it doesn’t cause too much pain.

But the disciple of Jesus who is actually serious about following the Lord, knows and admits that there are competitors out there. Money, sex, and power are the trinity of false gods we often follow. Lesser gods include social media, leisure, relationships, and commerce, to name a few. Disciples, true to the calling of Jesus, admit there are false gods competing for their attention.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19-21.

Lent invites us to call these gods out, to challenge them to duel with the Risen Lord and to also renounce them in our own lives. That’s what people do when they admit they are dust without the companionship of Jesus.

remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13.

O Christ we come before you today, reminded of how we are dust. Without you we are no better than our most feeble efforts and no nobler than our fleshly impulses. We know that without you we are aliens and strangers. With you we are built into the great Temple of God. Please journey with us this Lent and strengthen in us the desire to be pleasing to you. We pray this in your name. Amen.

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