Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday IV

If you go by the calendar today is nothing significant. February 17 is just a few days after Valentine's Day, two days after President's Day (this year) and a month ahead of St Patrick's Day. We are right in the middle of the Greeting Card time of the year. It is cold outside. There will be snow on the ground for several more weeks and I need a break.

A trip to somewhere warm would be good, but that is not going to happen anytime soon. Thankfully summer is on the way, but until then there is Lent.

Today is important because it is Ash Wednesday.

Personally, today marks the anniversary of this blog. For three years I have been writing, reflecting and ranting here. There are over 500 entries- most of them important only to me. This blog has been helpful, meaningful and a grounding place for me.

But more importantly, and universally, today is Ash Wednesday. This is the day that Christians all around the world receive the sign of the cross in ashes to symbolize our repentance and identification with the sacrifice of Christ.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Lent lasts for 40 days leading up to Easter. We observe Lent for 40 days because Jesus fasted for 40 days when he was tempted in the wilderness. During these 40 days we sacrifice, or fast, something to draw closer to Christ. Many people will give up chocolate or coffee or soft drinks. Some people will give up a certain meal during the week. Others give up television, or the internet, or something like that. Many Catholics famously fast meat on Fridays. (This is why we always had fish in our school lunches on Friday.) Whatever you choose to sacrifice, remember that the purpose is to remind you of the sacrifice of Jesus and help you get closer to him.

If you check the calendar, there are more than 40 days in the season of Lent. That is because Sundays are not included. Every Sunday is supposed to be a reminder of the resurrection of Christ at Easter. Sundays during Lent are "little Easters." You might choose to not fast on Sundays.

Many people choose to spend more time in prayer, Scripture study or worship during Lent. I encourage that. Join a group of others who are focusing more of their attentions, hearts and lives on being a part of the Jesus movement. Pray every day during this season. Read the Bible regularly. It will change your life.

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