THE LENTEN PATH
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
These are the words that usher us into Lent, a season of repentance when we are asked to dig deep inside ourselves to reflect on the substance of our faith. We begin with a reminder that we are mere mortals, birthed from dust and destined for dust, removing from us any illusion that we are all-powerful or indestructible.
Today some will attend a simple, quiet worship service and have gritty ashes imposed upon their forehead. Others may make a quick stop at an “Ashes 2 Go” station, where pastors meet the penitent on sidewalks and in parking lots to bestow those ashes with a few words of blessing.
And then some will begin their journey of Lent by choosing to give something up: a vice, a bad habit, some temptation we have succumbed to far more often than is good for us. There have been times I’ve taken that path and given up something I loved — pizza and chocolate have made frequent appearances. But it never seemed to me that giving those things up actually did anything to bring me closer to God or to deepen my faith. They were just things I should have given up anyway, and Lent offered a convenient prompt to do so.
This Lent, there are no doubt several things I’d be well advised to give up. But what my heart really longs for is to draw nearer to God. I want God to walk with me, guiding my discernment about what it is God needs of me and helping to illumine all the hope God carries for my life and for our ministry together in the Conference. I want to know that God’s love for me is steadfast, even on my least lovable days. And I want to trust more fully that new life and radical possibility are always just a bit further down the long and winding road, just as the Resurrection promise will emerge once again at the end of this ash-strewn Lenten path.
What will your Lenten journey look like this year? Will you give something up? Or will you give yourself TO a more full-hearted search for God’s presence and purpose in your life?
May God bless your journey,
Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister