Ash Wednesday 2019

For years I struggled with this Season of Grace…..

When growing up, I hated giving up stuff….and fish in the middle of Nebraska in the middle of winter was more like canned salmon, or canned tuna fish….or just macaroni and cheese.

Fish Frys were a luxury not something every parish did almost unlike our lived experience today.

It was giving up comic books, or TV shows, or candy, or chocolate….

It sucked….and I didn’t understand it.

As I grew older….i didn’t necessarily understand it any more either…..

My thought process grew….but Lent still seemed like a season of sacrifice, shame, guilt and all kinds of drudgery and doom.

Purple…covered everything….music lacked joy…the cross…an instrument of torture….was the focus.

Somehow the theological explanations didn’t get much better.

Suffering for Jesus….suffering like Jesus….offering up our suffering…..none of that made sense…and in fact still doesn’t make sense.

Either Jesus’ death was the ultimate redemptive act on the part of God, or it was a show in which we all participated every year.

As I got further into the spiritual life my understandings grew…and my theological reflections did as well.

I can not summarize all that I have come to learn or understand about this season….but I can share this…..

The practice of “repentance” was not a practice of sacrifice and shame, and self loathing or self hate…..

The practice of “repentance” has always had its aim to be “restoration”

This my friends is a season of restoration….not a season of shame

It is a season of restorative grace, not guilt ridden sorrow.

This is a season….to focus our hearts and minds on how we can best live into the Divine Image in which we were all created.

Because if we are honest with ourselves, we do not always live out of our Divinity.

There are times in which our sin stands directly in the path of our humanity and we choose to be and to act less than what we were created to be.

If we adopt any practice this season, I hope it is a practice of building grace.

I hope it is a practice, that helps us to think about, practice and live into our greatness not into our sin.

If additional time in prayer, or the practice of fasting or the giving of alms, or any other discipline of this season becomes our path…I hope we can see…the purpose of the path is not to make our feet sore and our lives miserable….the purpose is always to restore us to the image in which we were created.

As we set out on these 40 days, I hope and pray that we do so with hearts that are filled with hope, with deep solitude and with a desire to know our own divinity even more.

I hope and pray that when we get to Easter what we celebrate in the empty tomb, is a heart and a soul that is empty of self defeating language and filled with the light and peace and joy that comes from our knowing we are indeed Children of the Living God….who are called to share that love with the world.