“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12)
On Wednesday, February 17, we recognize the beginning of the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is a solemn reminder of human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God and marks the beginning of the penitential Lenten season. It is commonly observed with receiving ashes in the sign of the cross on the forehead and fasting.
Not every Christian faith tradition observes Ash Wednesday in this way. I grew up in the Church of the Brethren and I do not recall my home congregation nor the congregations I served in, practicing the imposition of ashes; however, I know there are some COB churches that do. I became familiar with the practice when I served as chaplain at Fahrney-Keedy. I did honor the practice there because many different denominations were represented in that congregation. It was a very meaningful experience for those who gathered.
Since we cannot meet in person for worship, at this time; this year, I would like to offer the imposition of ashes for all of those who find that practice meaningful, by doing a drive-through event on Ash Wednesday from 12:00 to 1:30 PM at the parking lot entrance to the church. As a reminder, put it on your calendar if you want to participate.
Lent lasts for 40 days, not counting Sundays. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. Many Christians focus on their relationship with God, growing as disciples and extending themselves, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.
I chose the verses above from Psalm 51, because it not only addresses our need for penitence but because it also points us towards recognizing that we are valuable to God. Although we may feel undeserving, God offers us his grace; and replaces that dark place of sin that exists within us with the joy of salvation that the Holy Spirit supplies and nurtures our souls as we continue to seek God. This directs us to a positive and uplifting message in what may feel otherwise like a season of darkness and lament.
This year as we embark on a personal journey through Lent, I am offering a virtual Lenten breakfast on Zoom to be held every Wednesday morning, February 24 – March 24, from 6:30-7:00 AM. Each week, Beverly will email the Zoom link to everyone so you can sign on at the scheduled time. Bring your breakfast to eat while we listen to readings of reflection, pray together, and perhaps even sing together. I am looking for volunteers who are willing to write or find a devotion to share with those who gather. Please contact me if your spirit is calling you to do this. If you do not have Zoom on your computer, tablet, or phone and you would like some help getting it, please let me know and I will find someone to help you.
As we seek God while we journey through the season of Lent, may we be blessed with a renewed spirit, ready to continue the adventure walking with and serving with each other for the glory of God and the building of His kingdom.