Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent in the Christian Church. Lent is a 40-day season of grappling with the most serious dimensions of the human condition – sin, mortality, suffering – in remembrance of the many trials Jesus endured during his ministry. He began famished in the wilderness for 40 days, and ended up suffering and abandoned on his way to the cross.
But Lent is not only about pondering the tragic and cruel dimensions of life. It’s also a time for growth, renewal, and creativity. The word Lent actually comes from an ancient word for ‘measuring’ and it refers to the lengthening of days in the spring-time. Christians remember the courage and grace of Jesus as he faced his own death, during a time of year when the weather is warming, and new life is budding all around. It's our annual reminder that the desolation of winter is not the end of everything.
So Lent is a mixed bag, like each of us. The hope is thrown in with the heartbreak. The dawn mingles with darkness.
On this first day of Lent, ashes are rubbed on the foreheads of worshippers, and these words are spoken: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return.” This is a reference to Genesis, which says the first humans were formed out of the dirt, the same material we’re buried in at death. So we begin the Lenten journey affirming our own mortality, reminding one another that we live but a short time, and every day is a gift.
All through our time on earth, we experience both joy and anguish, elation and trauma. We have the means of compassion and creativity, just as we are able to deal in sorrow and sin, if we choose. The beauty and the horror, it’s all there.
And also there, always and forever, is our Savior, the Prince of Peace, the artist of forgiveness, who makes a way through the wilderness, who goes before us as a trustworthy guide.
Jesus knows the whole truth about us. He sees us for who we really are and says to each of us, “Follow me.”
The Table is a Christian Church in Davenport, Iowa, pursuing transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith
Worship Sundays at 5pm
102 E. 2nd St. Davenport, Iowa
ASH WEDNESDAY, Feb 14:Join us at the JB Young Opportunity Center, 1701 N. Main St. in Davenport,
Any time between 4:30pm and 7pm. Recieve ashes, anointing, and holy communion. Share prayer and conversation. Stop by for a short moment or stay for a while!