Today Christians around the world celebrate Ash Wednesday. It is a holy and sacred day that begins the season of Lent. Too often we think of Lent as a time to give things up, but this way of thinking doesn’t capture the true purpose of Lent. Lent is a time of preparation; it is a season of getting ready for the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
On this Ash Wednesday we hear the words “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Ashes are placed on our foreheads in the sign of the Cross. What we remember today is that we are created by God. It is God who formed us and fashioned us, it is God who breathed life into the first human person. It is God who breathes life into you and me. We reflect on the fact that there will come a day when our earthly bodies will return to the dust from which we were once formed. This day recalls what we hear in the first chapters of Genesis.
It might seem that all of this is just a reflection on our mortality. This talk of returning to dust might seem like a strange way to begin this season. How often do we stop to reflect on the fact that we are created? Have you taken the time to think deeply about what it means to be created in God’s own image and likeness? God is the creator of all that exists and we are so intimately connected to the created world around us. Ash Wednesday helps us focus on our origins.
So, why celebrate Lent? During these sacred days you can be reminded of God’s unconditional love! By entering completely and totally into these 40 days you can grow in your relationship with God. These days afford you an opportunity to reflect more deeply on what makes you human.
The practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us journey more deeply in our relationship with God. I encourage you to use this season of Lent to grow in your relationship with God! Let this Lent be different! Let this Lent change you! Let this Lent be a time of increased faith!