Too Mutch

...a safe place to dance with ideas, play with theology, and re-create a life implicated by God

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Lenten Journey Begins

Today is Ash Wednesday—the beginning of Lent—our journey towards Easter. Maybe you’re thinking, “Easter? That’s like six weeks away!! Why start preparing already?” There lies the misfortune of much of the modern church. We have become a people who “live for today!” Carpe Diem! Our culture has taught us to overcome the past and to pay attention to the future only when it arrives. Lent is a time to prepare—physically, emotionally, intellectually, and (wrapped up in the previous) spiritually. It is a time for those who follow Jesus to prepare for the single most important celebration of the year, Resurrection Sunday. Christmas lovers will have to step aside on this one. I don’t mean to demean Christmas as a holiday, but it too ought to lead us towards Easter. I think what I’m going to enjoy about Lent and preparing for Easter is the distinctness it will have over Christmas. EVERYONE celebrates Christmas and it begins 2 months early. Not so with Easter. Easter is a one day event for the greater society. With Lent, we get to prepare and anticipate and be distinct doing it—hopefully for many to see!

Over the course of these weeks, I will give snippets and highlights about the meaning of Lent. I’d love your questions, too. But for today, I’d simply like to share a symbol that I think describes the season of Lent. BAPTISM. You will often hear this phrase said when someone is being baptized is—“you have been buried with him in death…and raised with him to new life!” Lent focuses on the same two things, just not in one event. Rather, we spend weeks identifying with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Ash Wednesday is the first day and gathering time for Lent. If you go to a service, it will likely be solemn and reverent. Its intent is to help us reflect on our own mortality and our sin and our need for repentance. Ash Wednesday is most known for the imposition of the ashes. Traditionally, the ashes will be made from burning the palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. They are then placed on the forehead in the shape of a cross, while the celebrant says, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

It is a time for me to be reminded of my mortality…a time for me to be reminded that though I live for myself much of the time, I am not God. He has made me. He has called me. He is saving me. But I am still a speck of dust. I am humbled. And that is a good thing.

This post has gone long enough. I hope you will consider going to some Lenten services. I hope you will find a daily reading guide to follow along with the other millions of saints who will be reading during Lent. I hope you will find the next several weeks uniquely spiritual and transforming and exciting.

Tomorrow/Friday—Are you going to fast from something during Lent? I’ll tell you mine if you’ll tell me yours!


At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Manny Ramirez said...

For Lent I am going to fast from seeking a trade every week. In other words I'm going to fast from "being Manny" until Easter and then I'm going to go back to "being Manny" so I can drive Bostontonians nutty for another year

At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Johnny Damon said...

I am going to fast from being a Boston Red Sox player ...for a lot longer than lent so that I can turn to the kingdom of light. Wait..that's not fasting. That's repentance.

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous raptor said...

Greg, I'm fasting from Ketchup chips. Serious. I eat 2 big bags a week here. Somtimes, though I think this fasting thing is a bit frivolous. How does my little sacrifice compare to THE sacrifice? It does help me to think about THE sacrifice though.
What are you fasting from?


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