Monday, February 27, 2006

Lent and Ash Wednesday

I’m a bit shy right now to talk about this because I feel very uneducated and uninitiated in the whole arena of church holidays. I also went through a big thing at Christmas about not knowing if celebrating Christmas was right, and I’ve not come to a conclusion on that. But I’ve always believed in celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection, though I’ve never really had a good grasp on how best to do that.

I’ve celebrated Lent once or twice in my life, but not exactly in the fashion it is meant to be celebrated in. You know, I’d give up chocolate or something, but I wouldn’t replace it with prayer, and I’d hardly remember I’d given up the thing at all and either eat it forgetfully or never miss it. And I don’t recall really doing it with the right motives either – it wasn’t for sobriety or remembering Jesus’ fast in the wilderness. It was just, I suppose, something to do.

I’ve celebrated Good Friday and Easter in many of the traditional ways, but I’ve never really gotten the concept of Ash Wednesday or Palm Sunday or Maundy Thursday, etc etc. I’ve never been in a church that took much note of these things. I’m unfamiliar.

But – and here’s where I get shy – I feel like my ‘spiritual walk’ (I’m not a big fan of Christian-isms, but what else do I call it?) could really benefit from it. I could benefit from forty days of sobriety to contemplate my fallen state and pray as Jesus prayed in the wilderness. I could benefit from removing something noticeable from my life to remind me that I am human and ‘just a vapour that appears for a little while and then vanishes away’, as James 4 says.

For this reason I am also drawn to Ash Wednesday. A day to recognise that I am dust, to repent (sackcloth and ashes, as practiced in the Old Testament), and also to praise Jesus for not just dying on the cross for me but raising himself and thus offering me life!

I want to observe these symbolic practices because I need help. I am so fallen and so far from God and the queen of All Things Hypocritical. I want to repent. I want to contemplate my humanity and be humbled – humiliated even! I think so often of how righteous I am, how good my theology is, how wise I am – I am a fool! I am filthy, my theology is nothing, and I don’t love. Yet I am forgiven. I am loved by God. I am counted righteous by Jesus blood. What a reason to celebrate!

So if you see me on Wednesday walking around with a cross of ashes on my head, I haven’t become Catholic (it isn’t just an RC thing, you know), but I do recognise my need for a Saviour. I’m not more holy or anything because of it, I’m really just a weak girl who needs things like this to be reminded of who He is and who I am not.

Also allow me to link to this, a Lent Blog to help us all reflect as Easter approaches.

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