Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Psalm 51:1 (NRSV)
Seriously, it’s already Lent again? Didn’t we just do this? Here we go again. Let’s all promise to be extra sorry, to give up sugar or swearing or some other thing until Easter, and even if we don’t make it, we tried. The important thing is that we all feel bad about ourselves and then we die, right?
I don’t like Lent. Most people don’t. I still need it. It is good for me… and for you… and for us to set aside a season for growth each year.
Since the very early days of the Way of Jesus, disciples of Christ have looked to the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness as a model for our own transformative growth. Because he fasted there, we fast. He prayed, so we pray. We commit to study more; to do less; to forgive better; to reflect on our mortality.
We do these things and, more often than not, fail. That’s part of the point, too: there is nothing we can do to earn a double portion of the grace we need. These disciplines and commitments, just like the law itself, are for us. They are for our growth, our benefit, our health, and our faithfulness. Lent is a gift! Receive it well. Tonight’s ashes aren’t only a glum signpost of our coming deaths. They are an occasion for turning back to the things that matter to make the lives we live meaningful.
So come tonight at 7:00pm, reflect, repent, and believe the gospel.
Grace and Peace,