2 Questions to Consider for Ash Wednesday… and Lent and Easter and Everyday

2 Questions to Consider for Ash Wednesday_2Something big is coming.

Something life-changing.

Something world-changing.

As a general rule, I hate change.  I am quick to judge and slow to warm.  Transitions are tough for me.

These days, however, I am craving a change.  My anxiety, some of it my own creation and some of it borrowed from the outside world, has left me weary.  I’m eager for a fresh start. I’m excited for the something big.

As with most things, there is good news and bad news.  I’ll start with the bad: the something big requires a lot of work.  Think of how your body feels after a run: chest heaving, shins aching, hair sticking to your hot cheeks.  Imagine if your soul felt like that. The something big demands that sort of effort, exertion.  Now, for the good news: the something big comes with countless gifts.  Think of how your body feels after a shower: skin soft, muscles relaxed, hair dripping down your bare back.  Imagine if your soul felt like that.  The something big can cleanse you, calm you, heal you.

Even I’m okay with that kind of change.

Preparations for the something big start in 7 days, on March 1, with Ash Wednesday. Christians from the Catholic and Protestant traditions will spread ashes across their foreheads in acknowledgment of their iniquity and mortality.  Just like Job, they will pray, “I despise myself,/ and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).  

For approximately 40 days thereafter, us Christians will undertake certain sacrifices and practices to grow closer to God.  We will do so in the example of Jesus, who “was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1b-2a).

Then, on Sunday, April 16, we will celebrate the biggest something that ever was: Easter. Just as Peter did some 2,000 years ago, we will get up and run to the tomb; stoop and look in, [and] see the linen cloths by themselves.  We will return home, amazed at what has happened (see Luke 24:12).

How will you prepare to fully experience and embrace the something big?  

If you’re not sure how to prepare, reflect on the questions below.  Your preparation may involve sacrificing something (e.g., alcohol, makeup, social media, etc) for the 40 days. Or, your preparation may involve doing something new (e.g., volunteering with a local charity, reading a devotional, calling your grandma, etc).  The questions below helped me make my own Lenten commitments, and I hope they will help you prepare appropriately for Easter. I pray that, when the something big does come, it will change us and our world like never before.

Questions

  1. How can I better love and serve God?
    • What practices help me connect with God (e.g., studying the Bible, walking a labyrinth, keeping a journal, etc)?
    • Can I engage in these practices more frequently?
    • If so, how can I make time and space for these practices?
  2. How can I better love and serve my neighbor?
    • Have I demonstrated all the fruits of of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, etc)?
    • If not, how can grow in one or more of these fruits?
    • Is there a particular relationship in my personal or professional life that needs particular attention or effort right now?
    • Is there a need in my local or national community that I can address?

8 thoughts on “2 Questions to Consider for Ash Wednesday… and Lent and Easter and Everyday

  1. Good things to think about. My life is so full of change right now, I haven’t even thought about Lent, honestly. Thanks for the reminder! I found you through Women With Intention link up.

    1. Thank you for visiting, April! I so enjoy everyone I’ve met through Women with Intention, and I look forward to visiting your site as well.

      Part of what I love about Lent is that it encourages me to purposefully reflect and improve on my spiritual life. Given all the demands of daily life, I imagine that, without Lent, Easter would sneak up on me every year. I hope that you are able to find a way to connect with God during this Lenten season, and that you find some peace and joy in this time of transition.

  2. I was raised in a traditional Lutheran church so know well Lent and the preparation for Easter, but so often the emphasis of this season is on giving up things. A better practice is not really to give UP, but to give TO… that is, to give OURSELVES to God more deeply as we contemplate the reality of all that He first gave TO us. thanks

    1. I absolutely agree, Karen! So often, we confuse the means with the end. The practice of giving up the things of this world should, in theory, enable us to give more of ourselves to God. Thank you for so eloquently expressing this important point!

    2. I grew up in the Lutheran church as well, and Lent is a time of reflection and confession for me. This is the first time I’m giving something up for Lent, after almost 40 years as a Lutheran. I’m giving up sugar because I feel it’s standing between me and God, and I want to grow spiritually. Visiting from #mondaymusings

      1. Sarah, I love your description of Lent as a “time of reflection and confession.” So well said!

        A fast from sugar sounds like a great way to better know and appreciate the sweetness not of this world but of God’s perfect love. I will certainly be praying for you over the next 40 days, and I hope that you’ll share your experience with us once the fast is finished.

        Seeing as today is Fat Tuesday, however, I hope you’re enjoying plenty of last-minute sugar 🙂

  3. A time of change…something big…yes, that is where I am. It is scary and exciting at the same time. I intend to take the time over the next month or so to reflect and seek the Lord for His will regarding this big something. Thanks for sharing on Grace and Truth.

    1. I could not agree with you more, Aimee; seeking the Lord’s will can be both scary and exciting. My husband always reminds me of that wonderful line from Mr. Beaver regarding Aslan in C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:” “‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” God is so good but following His will sometimes means leaving the comfort and safety of my own plans. I pray, Aimee, that this time of reflection would be fruitful for you. Thank you so much for visiting from Grace and Truth!

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