Today’s Thought: When was the last time I called God… and not because I needed something?
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning….” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…. (Joel 2:12-13)
It’s Ash Wednesday. Today is the first day of Lent—a day when millions of Christians set aside time to reflect on our role as children of God. As most of us know by either observation or experience, children can be devoted and they can be distant; full of understanding and short on slack; quick to anger and tantrums, or easy to hug and love. Sometimes the parent-child relationship is solid, and sometimes there are cracks. And, if we aren’t careful, a crack can become an impassable crevasse.
During Lent, we are called to look for cracks in the foundation of our holiest relationship. Called to reach out and talk to God about our need for forgiveness and our desire to change. And we are called to thank God for giving us the opportunity to do both, knowing that we’re promised redemption by the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus.
There are Ash Wednesday services being held all over the world in churches today. I encourage you to attend one. Typically at some point during the service, the minister or priest will dip his or her thumb into moistened ash and rub the sign of the cross onto the foreheads of worshipers as an outward sign of sorrow and repentance. In doing this, we’re reminded that we came from dust and if not for the resurrection of Jesus, we would be condemned to return to dust in eternal separation from God. It’s one of the most ancient and moving traditions I’ve experienced in the Christian faith, and one of my most humbling moments in the presence of God.
Go meet God at an Ash Wednesday service. Use this intentional, sacred time of contemplation to begin your Lenten conversation. As you move through the next 40 days, ask for God’s help in eliminating the cracks that jeopardize your relationship with him, and in finding ways to strengthen it. God is ready to talk whenever you are.
Not sure how to speak to God? Don’t have a clue as to what to say or where to begin?
Take a look at the words of a remorseful and repentant King David:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:1-2; 10-12)
Wednesday’s Wisdom: Lauren Winner, professor of Christian Spirituality at Duke Divinity School, writes, “As I watch my priest lay the communion table for the gathered believers, I remember why eating attentively is worth all the effort: The table is not only a place where we can become present to God. The table is also a place where He becomes present to us.” Check out Lauren Winner’s author page at amazon.com.