Quiet chords from the organ float through the air as I sit staring at the huge wooden cross at the front of the sanctuary. It is indeed a sanctuary; no loud voices or even footsteps confront my thoughts. I study the 13 pieces of rectangular turquoise glass that allow light to filter through from behind the cross. I wonder why 13?
The light outside is fading; the west facing windows are darkening their stained glass images fading. I wonder about a lot of things on this evening of Ash Wednesday. Candles on the altar are lit and someone slowly brings the dimly lit sanctuary into more full light. We’re told to open our Wesleyan hymnals to And Can It Be? My ten year old perspective on faith is youthful and full of questions: why did Jesus die? And why for me?
Today marks 48 more trips around the sun since that evening long ago. I haven’t always marked Ash Wednesday with questions and reflection but this year 2016 I want to be intentional and ask questions.
Perhaps you have asked them too?
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a day of remembrance and confession. We remember what Christ came to do and has accomplished on the Cross in our place. We confess the many reasons that awful punishment was meant for each of us; but because of mercy and love we receive grace instead. Some fellowships will mark the foreheads of believers with a Cross of ashes (usually from the burning of last year’s Palm Sunday palms) as a remembrance that our physical body will undergo death and decay while our soul will live on with God.
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Let’s spend the next 40 days Learning to Let Go of so much…pre-conceived notions and mindsets; old hurts; unforgiveness; physical items that don’t bring joy; you name it! Let’s spend the next 40 days Learning to Lean In… toward the freedom offered us as we respond to God’s Word-Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
I’m going to present a daily challenge, a new way of being perhaps, for each of us to practice. They will be fun, creative and will hopefully draw you closer to Jesus. Lent isn’t intended to be an add on to your full life; it’s intent is to bring your awareness of God more regularly in view within your regular life. Pretty regular, eh?
So here’s a regular challenge: look around you right now. What is one item in your view that you can see that reminds you of an act not yet taken care of? Confess it. What is another item in your view that brings a smile to your face? Who can you thank for it?