Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. So gather all that ash from the fireplace and grab your burnt sticks; it’s time for forty days of repentance all you sinners!
I knew tomorrow was coming and I am ready…sort of.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning Lent, a 40-day season of fasting and prayer that leads up to Resurrection Sunday, April 12, 2009. It is a way for followers of Jesus to identify with his 40-day fast in the wildernenss, by choosing certain ways and certain times of prayer and fasting. (I wrote a 5 page guide here: www.cornerstoneamericus.com/lent.) It is a way to reflect on the sorrow of the cross in order to rightly celebrate the ultimate Christian celebration — Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
Every Sunday morning is a mini-celebration of the resurrection, which is why most of us attend worship services on Sunday, but if you do not practice Lent, it is possible to treat Rez Sunday like an ordinary day. Not for me. Last year was the first year I practiced Lent and it made Rez Sunday 2008 much more than a regular Sunday.
So I am ready for Lent, but I am looking at the next 40 days with a bit of apprehension. For one, I hate fasting. There is nothing fun about hunger pains and caffeine withdrawal headaches. (I am going to do something about the headaches this year as I am adding coffee to the list of acceptable drinks during my fast.) I am going to fast one to two days a week during the six weeks of Lent. I hate fasting, but I love it, because it is such a powerful spiritual pathway. It does not change us, but it puts us in a position where God can go about the process of changing us.
Also I am reading N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God during Lent. That’s 738 pages in 40 days. Some guys want to climb Everest, some want to run marathons; I want to read a 700 page book.
For me it will be a 40-day period of sermon preporation so that I can stand up on Rez Sunday and have something meaningful to say.
So join us for the fast, join us for Lent, join us in identiying with Jesus so we can celebration his resurrection.