Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12-17, Psalm 51:1-17, 2 Corinthians 4:21-6:10 (read online ⧉)

Through the prophet Joel, God sought to realign the life of the Israelites to Him. God was calling them to live a life oriented to Him. God didn’t want them to miss out on the life they were meant for. As we begin the Lenten season, it is a time for each of us to reflect upon what in our life is keeping us from being oriented on Him.

From the early days of our faith, Christians have observed the remembrance of Christ’s passion (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter) with great reverence. It became the custom to prepare for that observance by a season of prayer and fasting, and the reconciliation of those who had been separated from the community of faith. When keeping the season of Lent, we take to heart God’s call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and practice in our daily lives the work of reconciliation. You are invited to the observance of Lent through self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.

On Ash Wednesday, many people to receive the mark of ashes, which is a reminder of our mortal nature and of God’s invitation to receive Christ’s redeeming work. The ashes are a sign of repentance, that one’s life is not as God-focused as it ought to be. It is a declaration that all is not well, that something needs to change.

As we walk together through Lent, through our paths of reflection, self-denial, and repentance, this is all part of our response of gratitude to God who sent Jesus Christ, the ultimate love letter, to us that we can see that God wants us as His Children.

1) Giving up something (self-denial and/or fasting) is often practiced during Lent. The purpose is to grow closer to God. If you choose to do this, what will you give up? We challenge you to share whatever this is with someone who will hold you accountable.

2) Other practices for Lent are focused prayer, self-examination, deeper scripture reading, all of which are intended to draw us deeper and to slow us down. What will you focus on this Lent to grow your Christian walk?

3) One of the newer trends is to give up something you know you need to give up already. Do you think that could be effective as a spiritual discipline? Why or why not?