Home Forums Noticings… 190306 – Ash Wednesday

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    March 6, 2019

    There is a long and strong cultural tradition of “giving up” something for Lent. Even among people who might never darken the door of a church you’ll find those who are “religious” about giving something up for Lent. Somehow they’ve appropriated a theological idea and applied it to their life. On a certain level that’s a lovely thing. The things secular people tend to give up seem most often to be related to a bad habit or a lifestyle failing. People give up chocolate, or smoking, or drinking, or social media. Some people might choose to take a different tack and “add” something to their life to make it better – like exercise, or doing a random act of kindness each day. Whatever these folks might choose, adding or subtracting, the goal is to mark the season by making a change. People of faith do something very similar, but hopefully our motivations are deeper than losing a few pounds or strengthening our will power.

    I like to use the language of fasting and feasting in Lent. The idea of giving something up is tied to the theological idea of sacrifice. However, if all you do is the sacrifice part you run the risk of limiting the theological meaning to being about suffering and punishment – and that contributes to an impression of God that for me is highly problematic. The fasting part becomes powerful only when it’s accompanied by feasting. A person fasts from a certain activity SO THAT they can create time and space to feast on prayer, or some other spiritual activity. Fast from whatever you wish, as long as it opens you to feasting on the Presence of God.

    Whether you approach it from the secular angle or the spiritual angle there is an intentional effort to mark the season. Lent is a season of prayer and pondering that prepares us for the heavy theological journey of Holy Week. It deserves to be marked. I encourage you to mark it. And I also encourage you to go deeper still. We begin Lent each year with an Ash Wednesday worship service. It will be tonight at 7:00 pm. The centre point of that service is called the “imposition of ashes,” where people choose to come forward and I mark their forehead or wrist with an ashen cross. As I do that I say these words: “An ending and a beginning. You are marked in love.” It can be very spiritually powerful. It takes us deeper than what we may choose to add or subtract for a season, because it reminds us that we’re not just marking Lent, but that Lent is marking us! That is the question I’d like to leave you with. Instead of asking, “How will you mark Lent?” I would ask, “How will Lent mark you?”

    Songs For Sunday Night

    Here’s a way to make your Sunday Night Worship experience even better! Here’s a link to the songs we’ll be singing this week. Now you can listen to the songs before you come and enter into worship more fully! And if you can’t make it Sunday you can just click and listen for your own worship time. Sunday Nights at 7:15pm. (Bring a friend!)
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