Post date: Jan 28, 2016 5:40:35 PM
Dear People of God,
After a long, hot, dry summer we are having a cold snowy winter. Last winter was too dry and warm, which led to drought and fires. So even though most of us get tired of shoveling snow and driving in snow sometime in January, we really need the snow for moisture and summer water. At least we need a good snow pack up in the mountains, especially for the farmers: maybe not so much in town. But the snow and cold does make for more fun at the Lazy F youth retreat when we can tube the awesome hill and ice skate. On a selfish, but fun fitness note, I get to enjoy some cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
Ash Wednesday, Feb 10th, and the season of Lent come early this year since Easter is early, March 27. And Easter is early because a full moon, March 23, directly follows the Spring equinox on March 20. Ash Wednesday is 40 days before Easter, not including Sundays, which are always “little Easters”: little celebrations of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t worry—there won’t be a test on this.
The season of Lent is 40 days long to remember the 40 days our Lord Jesus fasted in the wilderness and was tempted by Satan. It is a more penitential season in the church year. It’s a kind of spring cleaning for the soul. As Christians, during Lent we are called to struggle against anything that gets in the way of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Worship, prayer, Bible study, fasting and deeds of love help us to do this. Some people give up certain things like chocolate, meat or television during Lent to remember Jesus’ 40 day fast in the wilderness. This is fine and good if it helps you in your spiritual journey. I think it is perhaps more helpful to add something. Commit to praying and reading the Bible 10 or more minutes a day. Commit to doing 2 or more small acts of kindness during the week. Mother Theresa of Calcutta said something like, “We can do no great things, just small things with great love.”
On Ash Wednesday we receive a cross of ashes on our foreheads. It’s a sign of our mortality and a remembrance of our baptism into the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus. The words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” may accompany the ashes. Personally, I prefer to say, “Repent and believe in the good news” or “Repent and believe in the gospel.” Which spiritual practices and deeds of love might help you to believe and live out the good news of Jesus with even more vitality?