Ash Wednesday Meditation
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. For me, Lent is a spiritual journey filled with time of reflection and prayer that hopefully leads me to more completely follow Jesus Christ. Jesus went to Jerusalem to suffer many things, be crucified, and die. He assured the disciples that he would rise from the dead on the third day. I’ve wanted to rebuke the disciples for their lack of faith. However, the journey of Lent is a difficult one, especially this year.
My first recollections of Lent describe it as a season to avoid temptation. The temptations of Jesus in Matthew 4 provide things to think about. The temptation of Jesus follows his forty-day wilderness experience. Although the ways in which Jesus was tempted seem strange, all temptations are illusions that seek to fulfill God-given desires in God-forbidden ways.
Later in life, my focus during Lent turned to identifying and eliminating the toxic things that attached themselves to my soul. Like an attachment to an email, spiritual things can attach themselves to us and change our character and rob our lives of meaning, purpose, and joy.
As I approach Lent this year, the season has taken on an even more ominous character in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. No one is exempt from the pain of sickness, sorrow and grief that has visited the world in the past year. We all know someone whose life was threatened by the virus, and we all know someone whose life was shortened by it.
The liturgy and ashes of Ash Wednesday remind me that “you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Paradoxically, to contemplate death can provide meaning to life.
The Season of Lent is a time to avoid temptation, a time to name and break free from the attachments that would corrupt our spiritual lives, and a time to contemplate the meaning of death. Would you join me on the journey this year?
I am praying for you throughout this season.
Prayer for the day: O God, we have experienced many deaths this year. Our hearts are heavy. We want to get through this season. How long must we wait? Keep us from temptation, deliver us from evil, and lead us through the valley of the shadow of death to the path of life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.