How do we prepare? Our liturgy for Ash Wednesday tells us that we prepare for the great Pascal mystery of Easter by observing a holy Lent – by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, almsgiving and by studying scripture.
Normally, we think of Lent as a time to give something up (like chocolate, or eating between meals, or alcohol), by denying ourselves of certain pleasures. But Lent is so much grander than simple fasting or denial.
Lent is indeed a time for:
- Self-examination – when we consider our lives; who we are before God; what’s good about us and what needs changing.
- for Penitence – if we find that we have sinned we are to acknowledge it, make changes, right a wrong (if possible) and move on.
- for Fasting – reigning in our over indulgent appetites.
Because – Lent is also a time for:
- Prayer – being open to the divine presence when we get up in the morning, or before we lay down to sleep at night; at noon-time, or any time during the day – to stop, to be quiet, to pray, to be open to God’s love and forgiveness.
- for Almsgiving – to give of our time, talent and yes even our treasure (our money) for the work and ministry of the church, for the work and ministry of this church.
- for the Study of scripture – to be sure that one of the principle ways God has chosen to be revealed to us is in the words of Holy Scripture.
And from time to time during this Lent you may ask yourself; why, why am I doing this? Because God loves you. More than anything else, the Easter message is about the depth and breadth of God’s love. He is risen, Alleluia! Not even the grave, not even the death of Jesus Christ, the son of God and our Saviour, can separate us from the love of God.
And so, this season of preparation begins with a message of love:
- “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
“… and to dust you shall return”: you shall return to God, the creator and maker of all, the creator and lover of all.
It is a distinct privilege for me to be the one who places these ashes on your foreheads and to remind you that you are loved by God and to God you shall return. Amen.