Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

I have never really participated much in the events of Lent... don't really know why - I guess it was just a result of being raised in a Baptist church and not engaging in these activities growing up and never adopting them once I was out on my own. The older I get, the more I am thankful for these remembrances. The older I get, the more I understand just how fast life passes us by and that I too will return to the dust in the Lord's time. We need more reminders... we need to be more mindful, or at least I do. So with that, I wish you all the best Lental season... may you, like I'm striving to, pause long enough to remember Christ and his journey to the Cross and to somehow, whether in ways great or small, embrace a bit more of what it means to take up your cross and follow Him.

Excerpts from an article by Margaret Manning

A Season of Dust

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. And unlike Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, Lent is a solemn season for the Christian. As part of the Ash Wednesday worship service, ashes are imposed on one's forehead in the pattern of a cross. The imposed ashes are from the previous year’s Palm Sunday fronds—fronds reminiscent of those waved triumphantly as Jesus entered Jerusalem on his way to Golgotha. The Jews believed he entered the city as the coming King; they did not yet understand he would reign through suffering and death.
These ashes remind us of our common destiny: “From dust you come and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). For the Christian, the Lenten season is also meant to remind us of our common mission to walk the path with Jesus toward death. It invites us to lose our lives in order to find them anew, resurrected with Jesus on Easter morning.
Whether or not one actively observes Lent, the season can serve as an invitation to evaluate our own lives and to examine the invitation of Jesus to “die” with him. We can enter this "deathly" contemplation with the anticipation of resurrection on Easter morning. But Christ’s path to resurrection is the path of laying down lives, the path of relinquishment, and the path of self-denial. This path feels entirely unnatural, for it takes us in the opposite direction of self-preservation.

The season of Lent is the season of dust and ashes. It is the journey toward one man’s death on a Cross and toward our own. Bonhoeffer understood this as he wrote from his prison cell, and Jesus understood this as he bore the weight of suffering, misunderstanding, shame, and death at Golgotha. The way to resurrection life is indeed not by saving our lives, but in losing them. Whether one observes Lent or not, the call to "take up our crosses" is issued to all.

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