"'Yet even now,' says the Lord, 'return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. ad tear your hearts and not your garments.' Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy...Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly;gather the people. Sanctify the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants." Joel 2:12-13, 15-16
And so begins another season of Lent.
There is often the question of "why does a priest smear ashes on your forehead"? It is a beautiful reminder that we are "but flesh"and, as the priest says upon imposing the ashes, "you are dust, and to dust you will return." We are fallible human beings in need of a Saviour. Yes, the ashes are not simply a smudge. They remind us of our need to repent.
Our assistant priest, Fr. Mike, encouraged us with this morning to make this Lent a season of becoming less selfish and more selfless.
So, if someone asks me what I'm "giving up" for Lent this year, I have my answer. Yes, I will eat less "junk". I will spend more time in prayer. I will fast, with the goal of drawing closer to God and becoming more like Him. But what am I giving up???
That's what I long to give up. With John the Baptist, I would decrease so that Jesus may increase. That others may see Him, and not me, in all my human-ness.
God, give us a blessed Lent.
"Lord, the trumpet has sounded, and I want to respond. Help me to rend my heart this Lent, so that it can be filled anew with your love and your Spirit."
from Five Minutes with the Word