you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19
We are in the middle of the Season of Epiphany, which began when the Wise Ones found God’s Light, a child born in a stable to parents who lived a normal peasant life. Epiphany is the season that brings a growing light into a dark world. Just when the light looks as if it is getting to its brightest, the Church year seems to plunge us again into darkness during the Season of Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on February 22.
Most of you know that my sister Sara, her family and I were “plunged into darkness” during the week of January 15 by the life-threatening illness of her oldest son, Mike. As I write this, Mike has had his 5th surgery in one week – yet the light seems to be growing stronger. With each surgery, Mike has less infection and is growing stronger. I am so grateful to all of you, to my colleagues and their Prayer Chains and to my friends for your deep prayer support. I believe this connection to God through so many caring people has indeed brought about Mike’s healing. This has also made Mike more aware of his own need for prayer and a deeper connection with God.
Human beings continually search for a deeper connection to that which is greater than they. We are born with a desire for a deeper bond with our Creator. The Season of Lent offers us that opportunity. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, a day of repentance, we enter a 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting. During this time, we have an opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with God. In Lent, Christians from around the world prepare themselves for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a time when many commit to giving up selected distractions from their relationship with God and for many, those distractions center on food and money. "Giving It Up" invites us to rethink the Lenten themes of sacrifice, repentance and renewal in new and unexpected ways.
I’d like to also propose that we consider a different sort of giving up. What sort of Christians could we become after 40 days of giving up things like worrying, or judging others, or underestimating ourselves? My hope would be that such inward and personal sacrifice would be accompanied by external, sacrificial giving, such as filling Lenten folders, making extra donations to the Food Bank, doing unexpected favors for others and paying forward those blessings we have received.
I invite you to join us on Ash Wednesday to begin our journey “grounded” by our earthly nature: “for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Being made of ashes we must reconcile with God in order to become living instruments of God’s grace. Come – begin the journey from the lowly place of ashes and dust, as we humble ourselves that we might grow into all God has created us to become.