Today marks the beginning of Lent, 40 days of fasting leading up to Easter, plus 6 Sundays—the Lord’s Day each week has always been considered to be a feast day, not a fasting day. Lent is linked to the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert at the beginning of his ministry on earth.
At Fain Church, we observe Ash Wednesday after our fellowship dinner. We are full, happy and surrounded by friends. Our readings, prayers and songs conclude with the imposition of the ashes, to wear on our foreheads on our way home. Then we wash up and go to bed. Only we know about our confessions and vows, unless we bump into someone in the parking lot. We truly honor Jesus’ direction that we don’t show anyone we are fasting!
Lately, we have been singing a wonderful hymn called “Sunday’s Palms Are Wednesdays Ashes.” Rae E. Whitney’s words of confession in its second verse call me to account:
“We have failed to love our neighbors, their offences to forgive,
have not listened to their troubles, nor have cared just how they live;
we are jealous, proud, impatient, loving over-much our things;
may the yielding of our failing be our Lenten offerings.” © 1994 Selah Publishing Co.
Between Psalm 51 and this hymn, Ash Wednesday marks my annual re-evaluation of my discipleship—How closely am I following Jesus, doing as he did, loving as he loves, motivated to please my Father in every way? It’s not about the ashes. It’s about the commitments, the longing for intimacy with God, the reminder that I always slip-sliding away if I am not moving closer to Jesus. So listen. Own these songs and prayers. Love your neighbors. Love Jesus. Make it so.