Ash Wednesday – A Time for Setting Intentions
March 5, 2019
2019 General Conference resulted in a myriad of thoughts, opinions and emotions. It also pushed many to consider their own beliefs and how exactly they envision the church in their place in it. As we move into Lent, we walk into the perfect time to reflect on our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors, and reconnect with God. What better way to engage and take action at this time in the church’s life (and our own lives) than to (re)commit to a spiritual discipline. Below, Rev. JoNell Lindh shares a few thoughts on the meaning of Ash Wednesday.
Lent is a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Saturday before Easter. Sundays are not included because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection. Lent is a season of the Church year which offers Christians an opportunity to observe a time of repentance, fasting, prayer, and spiritual discipline. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.
Many churches observe Ash Wednesday by making the sign of a cross on the forehead as a powerful reminder of our humanity and mortality. Ashes were an ancient symbol for repentance. Ashes also symbolize our sorrow for our mistakes. People in ancient times wore sackcloth and ashes as a way of expressing their repentance of their sins.
We are each encouraged to find a way of confronting our sinfulness during this time of Lent. Some choose fasting – not just from a favorite food, but perhaps from social media, or shopping, or anything else that may occupy thoughts and minds. Some find that in this time of sacrifice, God speaks to us, because our deprivation causes us to listen more intently. Perhaps it sets the stage for truly hearing God. Rev. Jacqui King, Pastor of Nu Faith Community UMC in Houston, says “I’m not skipping a meal because in place of that meal I’m actually dining with God.”
Some become more intentional about their prayer life. Prayer is placing ourselves in the presence of God. This does not always require words. Simply be still and breathe. In observation of Lent, others might apologize to someone, perform a random act of kindness, read the Bible, serve needy people, visit the lonely, tell someone you love them, say “thank you” to someone, or write a note of encouragement.
May your Lenten Season be a time of epiphany to your spirit.