Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, a time of penitence, reflection and preparation. I like to think of it as our own personal journey towards Jerusalem in which we face the wilderness of our own lives. It is the opportunity to fast the world in order that we might draw ever closer in our relationship with God. The ashes we receive is our witness and testimony before the world that we are on this journey. I offer this prayer to those receiving ashes today.
Almighty and merciful God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent; create in us new and contrite hearts, so that when we turn to you and confess our sins and acknowledge our need we may receive your full and perfect forgiveness. AMEN
Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Gen. 3:19
Please Join us
Wednesdays at 6:00pm
Bread For Life
Lenten Series: Finding Faith in God’s Forgiveness
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
7th & Edwards Street
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 More than twenty plus years ago, I had a terrible “addiction” to potato chips. I didn’t realize how bad it was until one day I walked past a display of potato chip bags while in a Wawa store and my mouth started watering. I am not sure how long my body had been reacting this way, nor why on this particular day I somehow noticed it. But looking back on it, subconsciously I suppose it may have been because the season of Lent was approaching and I had been previously thinking that Lent had no real affect on me and was trying to decide whether I should have some participation in it that year. Up to that point the only thing I had ever done for Lent was to not eat meat on Fridays. I understand now that the reason this practice did not have any real affect on me was because it left fish in my diet and I loved eating fish, thus there was no sacrifice. To make maters worse, in spite of my Pavlovian response to the potato chip bags, I bought them anyway. A few days later after a scheduled doctor’s appointment, I had to come to grips with the fact that over one year I had gain 15 pounds and was heavier than I had ever been except for the time when I carried my children. It didn’t take me long to deduce that my eating habits were taking my body in a direction I knew I didn’t want to go. It was clear to me that salivating at the mouth was sign that I had been conditioned to the propensity for desiring potato chips. If I was going to achieve a healthier body, I needed to change my eating habits and potato chips were first on the list. Needless to say, Lent was tough for me that year – and yes I fell off the wagon, prayerfully only one time. But this is exactly what the season of Lent is about – consciously giving ourselves the opportunity to come face to face with our weaknesses and those things that have kept us from knowing more of God’s love for us – giving them over to God totally and completely – replacing our desire for the physical with our desire for the spiritual – forgiving ourselves when we fall – and returning with a repentant heart towards a forgiving God who is nothing less than gracious, merciful and abounding in steadfast love.
Something as delightful as a bag of potato chips had become an obstacle albeit a small one, but nonetheless and obstacle to my health. It’s easy to do in this world. But weaning ourselves off of physical things we have conditioned ourselves to become servants to is necessary if we intend to be servants of Christ. Like Paul we sometimes must commend (accept) ourselves in humility – in order that we may obtain the ultimate reward; as Paul says – having nothing and yet possessing everything.
May He who came into the world to save sinners – strengthen each of us through this season and beyond to complete the fast with humility, share in the feast of his grace and mercy upon us – and in the end, raise us up into his glory. AMEN