Ash Wednesday 2017

We’ve all had that embarrassing moment.

Sitting across from a friend at dinner, engaged in a wonderful conversation. Then it happens. As our friend tells us the antics of her boss or what his kids drew on the walls, we see it. Not only do we see it, but we can’t take our eyes off of it. As much as we want to pay attention and listen to what our friend is saying, we can’t help but give into the distraction. It could be a piece of kale from his salad or just a chunk of meat from her steak. Whatever it is, though, we can’t stop looking at what our friend has in his or her teeth.

That embarrassing moment has the chance to occur a lot on Ash Wednesday. Instead of staring at the remnants of a salad in someone’s teeth, we can’t take our eyes of the sooty splotch on the foreheads of those around us. If we didn’t grow up in a tradition that regularly observed Ash Wednesday, we might find the ashen crosses more distracting than the food in between someone’s teeth. If we know the meaning behind that dark cross, though, it becomes less of a distraction and more of a reminder.

On Wednesday, March 1, CBC observed Ash Wednesday with a wonderful service. Ash Wednesday kicks off the season of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. Traditionally Christians have used Lent as a season to more wholeheartedly pursue Christ. Often times that pursuit involves fasting from something for 40 days, modeling Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness.

We may see friends posting to Facebook or Snapchat what they’re giving up for Lent. Perhaps one friend is giving up chocolate or another is giving up soda. In recent years it has been very popular to give up social media for Lent and take a break from tweeting, posting and snapping. Giving something up for Lent can be a great spiritual discipline, but we can’t just focus on what we’re stopping; we also need to think about what we’re starting.

During his message on Ash Wednesday, Pastor Rob encouraged us to do something that will help us reengage with the Lord and renew our commitment to him. For some of us, that might mean giving something up. For others of us, though, that could mean adding something into our lives. Instead of giving up coffee, maybe we need to add some intentional, spiritual conversations with a friend. Instead of giving up social media, maybe we need to go out of our way to fill our feeds with encouraging words.

Lent truly is a season to reengage with Christ and deepen our walks with him. Ash Wednesday gives us an opportunity to enter into that season. The service was a great time to sing songs of praise, hear from God’s word and gather together as family and friends. The highlight of the service was the receiving of ashes, a symbol of our mortality and complete dependence on Christ.

We usually don’t like drawing attention to any sort of blemish on our faces, be it a piece of food stuck in our teeth or an ashy mark on our foreheads. Ash Wednesday is a little different, though. Instead of wiping the smudge off of our foreheads we can proudly wear it as a reminder to reengage with the Lord and to point others to him.

What are you giving up for Lent or what are you adding?

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