Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, which you probably know because either you’re a church goer, or at some point in your life you’ve noticed people walking around with ash smeared on their forehead and you’ve said “hey, what’s the deal with that?” The ashes are burned palms from the previous Palm Sunday, are put on the forehead in the form of a cross, and are reminiscent of an ancient Near Eastern practice of throwing ashes over one’s head to symbolize repentance before God.
Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of Lent. Often, during Lent believers choose to give something up. Occasionally, the period of Lent can inspire someone to take truly needed steps towards betterment–such as quiting smoking. However, at least with the people I know, what is given up is something fairly trivial such as soft drinks or candy bars. In this way, the act of giving up is less about what is given up and is more focused on proving that they CAN do it. However, more fitting than giving something up for Lent is the practice of adding something This puts an emphsis not on denial, but on the creation of something new. If it is a question of health, adding regular exercise takes care of the God given body better than avoiding the occasional candy bar. We have nothing to lose buy loving our enemies, and we have everything to gain.

I know today we often consider sin to be something personal in nature – an individual failing. God also talked about sin as being the responsibility or the failing of the community. It is a sin that people in our world starve while others amass wealth, it is a sin that we spend our resources on weapons of mass destruction designed to destroy God’s creation, and it is a sin that we have misused God’s message of inclusive love and open table to discriminate against those we see as the other. These sins we need forgiveness from. In a world of war, hunger, and poverty there is room for us all to take responsibility for sin.  God’s love is inclusive of all individuals, regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation into the full life and ministry of the church.   That’s how I believe.  It is a new start which I was looking for at the New Year, when I want for what I’ve given up, I will think of Jesus giving His life for us, and also not be without, but also go within.

I’ve definitely written of my journey, I’ve always known God was beside me, and accepting me for who I am.   But also I wonder who I am to become.  Some days I find distractions, confusing me, my direction blurs, I lose my way.   I find the quiet comforting, the silence finds me closer.   I have lived in a loud house for the last three years, but now I find it quiet, it’s time for me to listen. Give me faith that will fill me with compassion.  Forgive me of my sins, forgive me when I wander off the path that I was meant to walk

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