Reflections on Lent | Ashes | Ezekiel 9.4, Gen 2.7 |

by | Feb 29, 2020

“And said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it. ” Ezekiel 9:4

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2.7

“Although the holiday of Ash Wednesday is never directly mentioned in the Bible, it is one of the most celebrated Christian events in church history. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a 40 day season of fasting, reflection, and remembrance before the Holy Week and resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. In churches on Ash Wednesday a minister recites Genesis 3:19 “for dust you are and to dust you shall return” – while applying ashes in the shape of a cross on the recipient’s forehead.” []

This past Wednesday was the start of Lent marked by Ash Wednesday. Since it’s a few days after that event, you might say I’m a little late to the party! Although I didn’t write upon the event on the day, I did reflect upon it, and in my heart celebrated the beginning of the 40 day journeys to Easter.

I’ve been practicing and celebrating Ash Wednesday and Lent for years. Sometimes I am more diligent than others but always, in my heart, and some in actions to follow, I find solace in the practice of denying self, taking up my cross, and following Jesus. I enjoy the practice of fasting not only from food, but technology, media, negativity and gluttony.

The passages today are used in Ash Wednesday services and may or may not be familiar to you. I found the one in Ezekiel interesting as the practice of humility and lamentation was carried out by Jews in Jerusalem thousands of years ago by a mark on their forwards. (Was this instrumental in how we now practice Ash Wednesday?)

The passage in Genesis reminds us from where we came — ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. That we are nothing without the life giving breath of God who fills us with his Spirit and forms ours bodies from the ashes.

Yet Ash Wednesday and Lent would be meaningless without Jesus who carried a cross to a hill called Calvary, bearing upon his shoulders the sins of the world, and dying so that all people might find forgiveness of sins and life after lasting with the Father.

The forty day journy, of which many of you are embarking, is a time of reflection, contemplation, mediation and solitude. It’s a time to walk as Jesus walked, along lonely and dusty roads, and find commonality with a God who came in the flesh so we might have hope.

If you haven’t recognized the start of Lent find a good daily devotional (perhaps from Truett Seminary, Seed Bed, or the Catholics) that takes you deeper than you’ve gone before in self-denial, sacrifice, humility and love for God.

“O Lord God, as I walk with you, I do so imperfectly. I walk as a man, a struggler through life, a sinner saved by grace. I walk as your child, in newness and in sanctification. I walk without reserve but in an act of repentance and restitution. But more importantly, I walk with you. I know your name. I love your ways. I am saved by your grace. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with our power and love. Help me recapture the essence of your beauty and dive deeply into your well of mercy during this Lenten season. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen