Wednesday, February 17, 2010

thoughts on ash wednesday

"Yet even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments."
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.”
Joel 2:12-13
Today is Ash Wednesday. In the liturgical tradition it is the beginning of the season of Lent. I was just reminded by a friend on the Christian journey that 
“Lent is an ancient Christian tradition that began as a way for Christians to join with new converts as they prepared to be baptized at Easter. It was a time for new converts / baptismal candidates to reflect on their need for Christ and walk in repentance, and the larger community of Christians would join them in this. To help in this, Christians have historically embraced some sort of fast – as a way of tangibly pulling one’s life (heart, thoughts, habits) into the way of self-denial and repentance. These are not simply initiation rites, but are essential daily practices in a life lived with God.”
I chose not to go to the Ash Wednesday service tonight because I wanted to make sure that I actually took the time to reflect on the meaning of this season and where I should examine my own heart. Why do people think of it as just a time to fast from something? Is that what it’s really about? I don’t think that it’s about fasting but, about seeking to give ourselves over to knowing God in a more intentional way. God is not any more available during this time than He is at any other time of the year. We are the ones that need markers in our lives, on our calendars to remind us that we have a lot more to receive that we’ve been aware of. 
I wonder how I can seek to know God more and see what He is doing around me so that I can join with him. I think that anything that allows me to love others well is important, which means I need to rest more and reflect more. Remembering that I need rest but that healing happens within community. Christ is found in the body of Christ. If I want to know Him more, I need to learn to enter into community as well. I need to “fast” from those things that lead me to fatigue instead of enthusiasm for loving and participating in relationship with others.

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live the questions now... R.M. Rilke