Our church had an Ash Wednesday service, and I have never been to an Ash Wednesday service before. It was one of the best church services I've ever been to. We decided we will make it something we do every year. They emphasized that Lent is a choice, not something forced on us by God, where we have the opportunity to take the journey with Christ to the Cross. In the same way that Christ died so that we may live, this is an opportunity we have to die to ourselves, so that others may live.
And so with Lent, we have the opportunity to fast, to give up something in our lives for the sake of knowing Christ better, or to take something on, that helps us to hold on to Christ.
For me, this year Lent represents the death of "The Plan". The plan I had for my life. How I want it to look, my time line, my hopes, all the earthly things I've been holding onto. I want to release those to God, and instead choose to walk with Him every day. To take what He brings, and hope that He will use this death to bring life to others.
Another really cool thing about the Ash Wednesday service was being marked with the ashes. Again, it is something that I had never done, but as I was waiting to go up and be marked, and was seeing people coming back with the ashes on a cross on their foreheads, I was struck with the visual representation of how we are marked with Christ. How when God looks at me, He doesn't see me, but Christ. And I was overcome with the weight of my sin, and how the 40 days coming up, this journey to the Cross, is necessary because of my sin, but also overwhelmed knowing that it has been paid for, the ashes on my forehead a visual of the fact that I have been covered with Christ, and am now identified with Him.
A few posts about lent that I came across yesterday can be found here and here. At the bottom of the second post was a really cool meditation that I love, by Thomas Merton:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Also, I listened to this sermon yesterday (this isn't the sermon from our church, but one I found on-line) and it talks about the fasting and feasting of Lent, and I really enjoyed it.