Today, the wheel of the Church year turns once more and we find ourselves beginning a new season: the season of Lent. On this Ask Wednesday, I invite you to listen in to our online service, live at 9:30 a.m. but available at the link whenever you wish to hear it.
I am sharing my homily here because it tells us about Ash Wednesday and what lent is about. You can read along when you listen to the service. 🙂 Have a holy and blessed day, everyone.
Ash Wednesday Homily
Well, the pancakes have been consumed, Mardi Gras has wrapped up, the noisemakers and perhaps the treats have been shelved as we greet this new day. This first day of the season of lent.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of our 40 day journey through Lent leading to Holy Week, Good Friday and ultimately, the empty tomb of Easter. As we begin the season of Lent, we are invited to take some time for self-examination, to really look at our lives and how we spend the time we have been given.
This is a good exercise any time of the year, but as we prepare our hearts for the events of Good Friday and Easter, it is a deeply spiritual thing to do, one that can help us grow in our faith and our self-understanding.
Over the next 40 days, we choose make time in our day to think about the people in our lives whom we have hurt or who may have hurt us and to work on moving to a place of peace and forgiveness. We give this over to God and own up to our own behaviour, knowing that each situation has brought up lessons and insights into our lives. As we let it go, we also forgive ourselves. And as we consider others that have wounded and hurt us, the point is not to excuse them but to move on in our own lives. Give them to God, look to the strengths and good things that have come about as the result of the challenges. There is healing in this for you even if resolution cannot be found.
During Lent, take time each day to connect more fully with divinity – by reading inspirational books, by meditating, and by praying for ourselves and others.We can also to think of ways to reach out and give of our time, talent and resources.
Many people choose to test their discipline and willpower and decide to give up something that they enjoy. This mirrors the sacrifices that Jesus made for us as he went to the cross and gave up his life for us.
I have learned over the years, with the ups and downs and stress of life that it isn’t always easy to give up something I like – such as chocolate. When I cave in a and eat some it tends to cause more stress and even guilt, so I have changed that practise.
Now I use the weeks of Lent to get out my journal and think about the things that have a negative impact on me and release them from my life. If something is not contributing to my self-esteem and confidence or making me feel good, then I choose to let it go. I try very hard to shake the dust, even if it means letting go of a friendship. If I am not being honoured or respected, then that person or circumstance has no resonance in my life.
During Lent, I use my “God Can” a lot more. If I am worried about something, I write it down and put it into the “God can”, a special jar appointed as the receptacle of my fears, concerns, worries and negative thoughts. I give it over to God and then as much as I can, choose to spend my day being happy, trusting that things will resolve for good with the angels and God working on it. And, I try and do one act of kindness for someone in the course of the day.
Lent reminds us to live by faith, to deepen our connection to God and to all the people on this earth. I do not believe that God wants us to sacrifice something I like or to suffer through a bad situation. Jesus already did that for us! God wants us to see ourselves as I we are regarded by our Creator – beautiful, perfect, joyful, prosperous and beloved. Forgiven and free, called to do the loving work of Jesus in the world.
So, I do turn Lent on its ear.
Instead of wearing sackcloth and wearing ashes, I profess my faith in a God who loves me so much he sent Jesus to tell me about that love and to show that love even beyond death. I give thanks for Jesus who told me to reach out and help my brother and sister, to embrace everyone as a child of god.
I try to live each day connecting to God, writing down my worries and putting them in the God can, working to squeeze the most out of each beautiful moment in the day. And, you know, living like this for the next 40 days as best we can, will make Easter a much richer experience as we proclaim the mystery and the wonder of our faith – that Jesus not only died for us but came back to tell us that we need not far anything in this life or the next because we are so completely loved by a all-accepting creator who is with us each and every day and into the life after this one too.
I pray that you have a wonderful and holy Lent, however you choose to observe it. Let us have a prayer to set us on our journey.
Gracious God, be with us this day as we search our hearts. In the things that we have said and done that have separated us from your love, forgive us. May we be aware of you loving presence walking with us, holding our hand in the dark, bringing to us people who will love and uplift us, bringing us blessings and good things.
Be with all whom we love this day bringing peace to those who are under any duress, healing to those who are ill in body, mind or spirit, joy to those who are without hope, and love to all who are tired in spirit.
We ask your angels to fill this whole earth with your divine light and grace, melting every hardened heart, clearing the scales from the eyes of those whose hearts and minds are consumed by anger, greed, avarice and lack of compassion. May we be instruments of your peace, your truth, your holy love and by our faith in you shine your light everywhere we go. Amen.