Ash Wednesday

Add or Subtract?

Today we turn from the season of Epiphany when we looked at the life of Christ and what he revealed about the nature of our God, to the season of Lent when Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration and headed to Jerusalem for the crucifixion.  We will be looking at how Jesus approached death.  Ash Wednesday marks the start of the journey we know we must all take.  It is not a mandatory holy day for many Christians but it is one of the most heavily attended services for Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics and other Protestant churches.  During the service, ashes will be rubbed on our foreheads in the shape of a cross, reminding us of our mortality, our broken relationship with the divine and with each other.  We need for a savior.  Many will hear the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  As we look out at our world bombing neighbors in Europe and as we look at the divisions within our own country and the weakness within ourselves, we can only bow our heads and pray!  Lord have mercy!

         For many Lent is a time of fasting, of refusing something we like, perhaps chocolate, so when we feel “the pain” we remember to turn to prayer and draw near to God for comfort.  We call that subtraction.  Others prefer addition.  A spiritual discipline can be emphasized or practiced more intently.  I bought a small labyrinth to add a period of prayer to my morning devotions, a time of prayer for our world.  My church has given us a calendar for the next 40 days till Easter (Sundays don’t count) to remind us of the work of the church in charities.  We are encouraged to create a little jar to collect an offering daily. So for today I read, “Did you know that the ELCA Hunger Program works in 63 countries (including the United States) and within 34 U. S. states.  Give 63 cents.”  That’s less than a cup of coffee!  We can be creative and round up or round down and give to the charity of our choice.  Will you be adding or subtracting during Lent?

         Whether we add or subtract, fast or do not, the next month we will focus on lent for our devotions on Luke’s report on how Jesus lived out his last days as he knew he was approaching death.  Lord, open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to the lessons you would teach us during this season.  Blessings.

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