Here are some great posts I’ve come across that I think are worth checking out. Whether you are a newbie to Lent or have been incorporating it into your regular spiritual rhythms for awhile now, give these a read. Golden nuggets of wisdom await.
It’s Ash Wednesday by Richard Beck
So I went forward and when the ashes were imposed on my forehead the words I got where these:
“Jesus loves you.”
Good gravy. That’s a great sentiment, but I’m not coming forward on Ash Wednesday to hear “Jesus loves you.” I hear that message every Sunday.
Snow and Ash by John Blase
I left early that Wednesday morning, swinging by the chapel before work started, and when that dear priest (who recently was consecrated a bishop) rubbed that gritty ash on my lily-white forehead, something changed. Observable to the naked eye? Doubt it. But to those who cared enough to pay attention, yes, I believe they could sense something different, that here was a man (me) wading deeper into a stream that’s been running for God knows how long. The Baptists taught me to swim, and for that I say ‘thank you’ every day; it is not a slight thing. And the Anglicans taught me to float, to trust the current.
Homily for Ash Wednesday by Tim Gombis
Think carefully about commitments that you make to God. Think very carefully about doing any sort of public act of contrition, or even of praying to God anything at all, if you don’t intend to leave our gathering here this evening and make any changes. It’s easy for us to express love for God out loud, or even in prayer, but to make no plans to go out and repair a damaged relationship. Some of you know that you need to take steps to make something right between you and God, or between you and another person. Some of you know that there are destructive habits that you are cultivating that will destroy your soul. But you have carved out a nice haven somewhere in a back-room of your mind and heart, and you have no intention of dealing with that, of cleaning it out. That’s not good. A treasured bitterness against someone. A refusal to forgive. A fantasy about revenge against another person. Deal with these. Drag them out into the open before God and ask him to cleanse you and give you wisdom to walk in pathways of goodness and truth. Ask him to help make you whole. And ask a trusted friend to help you walk through that process so that you can walk in God’s own life. That’s where true joy and true freedom are located.
Lent: 40 Days of the Sermon on the Mount by Chris Smith
For Lent this year, some friends and I are taking some inspiration from Gandhi and reading the Sermon on the Mount every day for 40 days. It will be interesting to have conversations along the way about how we are being changed by the practice, how we see God differently, how we see ourselves differently, and how we walk through the world differently.
As we enter the season of Lent I urge you not only to reflect on your shortcomings but to fast from verbalizing complaints for a whole week. Any time you are tempted to complain stop and give expression to something your grateful for. Research actually indicates that people who express more gratitude are significantly happier than those who are given to complaining about their situations.
Ashes to Ashes…Into the Life by Andrew Arndt
Ash Wednesday signals a return. But the return is not to drudgery or stale religiosity… no, no, no. It is to Life. Opening ourselves up to being permeated in new and fresh ways to the energy of the Triune God, being heated to the core by the “Sun of Righteousness.”
Ash Wednesday 2013 by Andrew Dowsett
The season of Lent is an invitation to reacquaint ourselves with dust…
To rediscover our connectedness within God’s creation, where we have become disconnected…
To see our fellow dustlings with solidarity and compassion, where we have viewed them with suspicion and contempt, where we have viewed ourselves as above others…
To allow Jesus to draw patterns in the dust, our lives not set in stone but something altogether more dynamic, able to adapt.
It is a season to humble ourselves, but also to learn to love ourselves in yet another year of our decaying dustiness, our frailty and wretchedness; and to love our dusty neighbour as ourselves; as we are made new, not by our own efforts but by the One who loves us.
Now here is a Lent-worthy question: In what ways are you committed to or dependent upon a system or power other than Jesus and the power of his resurrection? What unholy “marriages” have you made and for what benefits?
Freedom from labor.
To what extent are you spiritually free? And from which unholy commitments would you like to see God free you in the coming year?
Why Evangelicals Hate Lent by Bo Sanders
Look at our worship services. Just ask yourself: what would it take to lift your hands and sing “Shout to the Lord” at the top of your lungs … and then ask if that seems compatible with fasting or Lent. They are just two different muscle groups. Unfortunately, those who use the one often neglect the other and vice-versa.
The Fast We’ve Chosen: Begging with Our Friends by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
For the next forty days, we invite Durham to pray with us for our homeless neighbors and for City Council. As we fast from food and drink, we also commit to communicate with Council personally, expressing our deep desire that they would join us in overturning this unjust law. And, in solidarity with those who are begging to survive, we commit to stand with friends who already have court dates for violating this ordinance.