Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday: the start of less and more

Images and more info: Conservapedia
Those who saved their braided palm cross from last year's Palm Sunday may burn it today, pulling the ashes across their foreheads in the shape of a cross. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

It's the beginning of Lent today. I'm still wresting with my disciplines. Two of them will be deprivations - one of a certain kind of media that I enjoy and the other a food that I crave. One will be a discipline of prayer.

I'm a long-term calendar entry/ incremental task-maker/ don't look ahead until you have to/ survivalist. I've never looked ahead 40 days at the beginning of Lent for Easter on the calendar. Today it hit me, in light of our going to Indonesia in June: "Easter is April 20. That's a long way off! I may never have the chance to watch the programs or eat the foods I'm giving up. It will take time to pray this way. Do I really want to do this?"

Well, the answer is...

no. I don't want to.

Why should I? Why not indulge and carry on with the things that provide pleasure and put off a spiritual chore?

This is why: Lent isn't about us or what we give up. It's about remembering what Christ gave up for us. The disciplines are only a picture and an identification with Jesus. We put aside a little in gratitude for the enormity of His sacrifices on our behalf.

Regardless of my lackluster enthusiasm this morning, I set my face toward the life and death of Jesus.

Why Lenten disciplines? Why this season of remembrance in our spiritual journey?

Because of gratitude. Thankful hearts. And the remembrance that God who gave everything for us is worthy of worship and all our devotion. "Serve God with all your heart, soul, body," Jesus said.

That's a challenge worth taking on in this small way. There may be no smudge on my forehead, but there's a cross engraved on my heart.

Read more:
Ash Wednesday — Joel 2:1-2,12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

*And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV

*They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you. Jeremiah 1:19 ESV

*The chief priests and the scribes kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. Mark 11:18 ESV

Moravian Prayer: We depart from our daily routines to journey into the wilderness of Lent. Travel with us, Jesus. Lend us your courage, strength, and perseverance, that we might share your Easter victory. Amen.

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