Well, it has been a week…
When snow is in the forecast in Texas, you know it will be strange… but historic cold temperatures, rolling (and extended) power outages, schools and businesses closed, pipe and car issues, and even learning to boil (or having no) water… well that was a bit more than was expected…
Which brings us to today… Wednesday.
We would normally be holding an Ash Wednesday worship service tonight, but in light of all that has been happening, that doesn’t seem advisable or even possible. In-person worship is not an option for many, and in light of the continuing power issues, even being able to celebrate online may not be possible.
That being said, many of the lessons of Ash Wednesday, that are often foreign and hard to hear in a normal year, have been brought home to us over the past few days. Therefore, maybe it’s enough for us to reflect on what we’ve been reminded of together.
The 3 points of Ash Wednesday are:
- To meditate on our mortality, sinfulness, and need of a savior
- To renew our commitment to daily repentance in the Lenten season and in all of life
- To remember with confidence and gratitude that Christ has conquered death and sin.
But of course we have been living many of these points out. And here’s what I mean:
One of the main points of an Ash Wednesday service is to reflect on our mortality, our shortcomings, and our need. And in most years that is difficult because we feel invincible, we hide our shortcomings, and we handle our own needs. And in worship we do our best to ‘remember that we are dust, and to dust we will return’, but it doesn’t make a huge impact.
And yet, this year, these points feel all too clear. This past year we’ve lost loved ones to a pandemic, this past week we’ve lost our comfort, control, and security, and throughout this whole season we’ve lost so much that we normally take for granted. – And so, we HAVE become much more aware of our mortality and our need.
Which brings us to our second point, we are to use this time to recommit to repentance and disciplines. And again, we hear this each year without much real intent to change or to become different. We may give up something or try something, but without much intent to be changed or point our lives more towards God.
And yet, this year, I know that I personally feel the need to work to recover and create more margin and stability in my life, not to mention make several Christian disciplines more permanent in my life as a way to follow God’s leading better in my life. Additionally, this year I have found several areas in which I have fallen short, and in which I could improve. And so, I want to implement a renewed sense of discipline back into my often-too-comfortable life. – And I wonder if you have found this too…
Which brings us to our third point, to remember with confidence and gratitude our Savior who conquered sin and death… and while we always worship and give thanks for our awesome Savior, this year that is more urgent and important. Maybe especially because we are coming up to the one-year mark of our last ‘normal’ worship service at our church (March 15, 2020).
But therefore, as we begin THIS season of Lent, we look forward toward a renewed hope in the power of the Resurrection. We again need to be reminded that Jesus has conquered death, that the Holy Spirit continues to be at work transforming us, and that God still loves us and is with us. And, maybe THIS year we need to again be reminded that God is still working to bring Resurrection into our lives, and our church, and our community, as he continues to do the work of restoration and healing.
And so, with all of that said,
I invite you, in the name of Christ,
To observe a holy Lent,
With self-examination and penitence,
With prayer, and works of love,
And by reading and meditating on the Word of God.
PS In case it’s not clear, we will not be holding an Ash Wednesday service today, but we will move some of these elements into our Sunday Worship together.