We began today, Ash Wednesday, with a 7:00 am service, which was quiet and reflective. There are two more services here today, at 12:05 pm and 7:00 pm. Both services will be the liturgy for Ash Wednesday, and include hymns. The difference this year is that neither of them will have celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. It will abbreviate the length of the service, but the emphasis will be particularly focused on the message of the readings and the prayers of that day, as well as the emphasizing the moment for receiving the mark of ashes.
The season of Lent is an intentional period and exercise of spiritual renewal. It involves the works of and blessings of personal reckoning, true repentance, amendment of life, spiritual development, and growth in faith. The service’s signature observance is the “imposition of ashes,” which calls Christians to being mindful of who we really are as human beings; imperfect, incomplete and in search of a better life in God. There is an edge to it; of that there is no doubt. The point, however, is not about humiliation in the presence of God, but gratitude and humility in the acceptance of the full grace and love of God in Jesus Christ. There is great hope and peace to be known in it.
Ash Wednesday is an invitation to claim the blessing of the love of God; and to intentionally make a way and a place for that blessing in our lives. It is about being real in the presence of God. And Ash Wednesday and Lent are a kind of reality check. Its principle action, the “imposition of ashes,” is a visible sign of our mortal nature. Submitting ourselves to having our foreheads marked in ash in the sign of the cross is not at all a symbol of shame, it is mark of the acceptance of our own mortality. It’s that kind of being real. It is also a pledge to God to make a faithful amendment of your life, to the glory of God, the blessing of the Body of Christ and the peace of the world. Ash Wednesday is definitive day to begin that holy and good adventure. #ashwednesday #lent #seasons #ashes #renewal #christchurcheaston