Ash Wednesday – The Lenten Journey Begins
February 25, 2009, 6:44 am
Filed under: blogging, Lenten Synchroblog, spiritual formation

Today is the first day of Lent, the Christian journey toward Easter.  I am participating in a Lent Synchroblog, organized by Christine Sine.  A number of bloggers and communities will be posting regular reflections throughout the season.  Check in at Christine’s blog to explore these.  I will be using, and posting reflections on the excellent resource that Christine has prepared – A Journey Into Wholeness: Lenten Reflection Guide .  I would encourage you to do the same.

There are so many misconceptions about Lent out there.  Having been raised in a non-liturgical Christian tradition, I’m not even sure I knew that it existed until I was in my 20s.  In the past ten years, I’ve been much more aware, and have learned some of the value of observing.  Some of the misconceptions have to do with the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?”  Set aside chocolate, caffeine, television, meat, etc. – as though it’s just something you’re supposed to do.  Somehow the sacrifices are able to magically translate into brownie points with God (except we have a gnawing feeling inside that we might not quite be getting it right).  Fasting and sacrifice are good, but it’s critically important that we do so with the right motives, setting our hearts right.

David’s famous psalm of repentance (51), which begins with:

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

later says,

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

It’s not about what I do for God, in giving up something I love.  It’s about allowing the Spirit to train my senses more completely on Truth.

Lent isn’t always the most pleasant season – fasting and reflection on brokenness reminds of our insufficiency and need for God.  But it is important for so many reasons.  It sets us in line with God’s generosity toward us.  It sets us in right relationship with people around us.  It prepares us to celebrate the Resurrection, and the change in our world that results.  I am personally walking through a season in which I am acutely aware of my brokenness.  May Resurrection hope infuse me, even as I walk in the difficulty of repentance.

Peace to you this season.  Unite with God.  Unite with the suffering of others.


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