It has been a long day… a good one… and I am once again seated in my recliner writing my Lenten reflections. I’ll have to go back and see how many years I have been doing this… but it’s been a bunch.
Today it dawned on me during our first Ash Wednesday service that we don’t demand that people enter into the season of Lent, or that they must have a Lenten discipline… we invite them into this season, we invite them to discipline!
Just a few short moments into the service we literally have the “Invitation to Lent” and it goes this way;
“Friends in Christ, today with the whole church we enter the time of remembering Jesus’ passover from death to life, and our life in Christ is renewed. We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance and God’s mercy. We are created to experience joy in communion with God, to love one another, and to live in harmony with creation. But our sinful rebellion separates us from God, our neighbors, and creation so that we do not enjoy the life our creator intended.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from the love of God and neighbor. I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent—self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love—strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. Let us continue our journey through these forty days to the great Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection.”
I really love these words. There is so much good stuff in there. Stuff that fights against the self-loathing, view of Lent. As Christians we are not called to beat ourselves up, to regard ourselves as so much pond scum, but when we admit that we are dust we are allowing God to get creative with us. Lent also doesn’t lend itself to elitism, because in fact Lent is not all about us! The disciplines of Lent are ways we seek to exercise, to strengthen our lives and faith for the good of our neighbor, for the good of our communities, our churches, and our world. This all starts with repentance, a turning back to God the source of all life so that we might as dusty, ashy and gritty as we
are we become a gift for others in Jesus name.