“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
There is a country western song, that goes… I know I’ve been gone too long, when going home feels like moving on.
Ash Wednesday is, like the words of the song, ironic. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a time when I am invited to experience who I am in God’s eyes, in God’s heart. The anointing of ashes reminds me that I am nothing – I came from dust and I will return to dust. But the invitation is to return to the most significant of relationships. God’s desire is that I am available, open to experience God’s constant love, peace and mercy. In the experience of God’s gentle love and mercy I will also experience the shame and confusion of my brokenness, the world’s brokenness. Lent is not about my scuffling about in my darkest self and dwelling there. It is about moving more deeply into intimacy with God, coming home to God the source of all goodness, light and love.
The gospel tells me that whatever deeds I do- almsgiving, prayer, fasting – must come out of a genuine response to God’s love, not performed in order to gain God’s love, or impress others – both futile. Deeds, especially Lenten deeds, are meant to be a reflection of the growing intimacy between me and God. And just possibly, my unique expression of love, gratitude or shame will be something entirely different – unique to me! In the intimacy of our relationship I will know the proper response for me to make to God.
Lent is the season of deepening intimacy with Jesus. An exciting time. Jesus came because of the great love for me, for all of us. Jesus stayed and Jesus died for love of me, his beloved. A pure gift from the Lover to the beloved – me. What did I ever do to deserve this love? Nothing – again the irony. I have not earned this love, but am continually invited, coaxed and being lured into this rich and holy relationship. I will come to know. God will reveal my brokenness and my lovableness - and I will want to give back, to respond lovingly to this gratuitous love. As I walk with Jesus these next 40 days, I beg to share in Jesus’ joys and friendships, as well as his sufferings, trials, and betrayals. And I invite Jesus into my own sufferings, trials, and betrayals, as well as my joys. I beg for the graces of shame and confusion surrounding my brokenness and that of the world and also for the grace of gratitude for Love.
Jesus’ Lenten invitation, come with me, walk with me, eat with me, laugh and weep with me. And I with you. Be not afraid. Be at peace. Listen with your heart as I tell you my story and I will listen heartfully to your story. Listen as I reveal you to you.
In the next 40 days what unique something will I bring to our relationship? What is it that I am being invited to do, not to do, who to be with, who not to be with? How will I express my love, my gratitude, my shame? All the while living in the irony that I am of so little worth, yet I am of such great value!
The good news is:
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