Last night, I lead the church I serve in a study on Ash Wednesday and Lent. Baptist churches don’t often “do” Ash Wednesday or Lent. It has not been part of many Baptist churches’ planning or practice. I believe we have cheated ourselves.
In my contact with people of other denominational preferences, I have found those who follow the Church Year and who take the practices up which the year places emphasis to be stronger in their faith and more attuned to look at the world through their faith than those who do not.
Yesterday, Ash Wednesday gave me cause to reflect on my own mortality. I turned to Genesis 3:19 and was reminded of the curse and of the reality that, unless the Lord returns, from dust/ash I came and to dust/ash I will return. I then read Mark 1:15 and was reminded of John the Baptist standing in the Jordan calling out to the religious, to the nominally faithful, and others repent! Repentance is a need, a requirement for spiritual health and growth.
Yes, repentance, reflection upon our finiteness, and preparation for what is to come.
Jesus came up out of the Baptismal waters. He came to show us the way. So now, we follow him. We follow him as he leaves the Jordan River, as he leaves the awe of John the Baptists and the praise of His Father to enter into the wilderness where Satan is waiting. After Ash Wednesday we enter the time of testing. Will we be able to embrace self denial as a treasure when temptation offers us an easier way? We will stubble? Will we fail? These are the question the tempter would want our focus on.
Lent is not about legalism. It is about depending on God’s word, preparing ourselves for Easter. Today that journey continues.
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