A Different Kind of Ash Wednesday
Lent is the season of the church year that leads up to Easter. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, it lasts forty days, not counting Sundays. It commemorates the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and praying.
The season of Lent is an opportunity for us to get our lives more in tune with God’s expectations. The invitation that comes to us in the service of worship for Ash Wednesday is “to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.” The ashes that we receive on Ash Wednesday are a sign of our repentance—”Repent, and believe the gospel”—and a reminder of our mortal nature—“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Ash Wednesday this year was much different for me. Rather than getting ready for the service that evening—preparing the order of worship, checking on the bulletins, locating the ashes, and so forth—I was in Wichita, receiving the needed treatment to get my heart back in rhythm.
In my case, the issue was “atrial fibrillation.” This is “an irregular and often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow to the body.” While not life-threatening, the situation does need to be treated so that the heart again beats in its proper rhythm.
When I discovered that I had inadvertently scheduled this procedure on Ash Wednesday, I was upset with myself. I felt like it was my responsibility to take care of the service. It was my job to get everything done. But then, members of the church staff and the Staff Parish Relations Committee began to help me see things more clearly.
In retrospect, perhaps Ash Wednesday was precisely the right day to have this procedure done. After all, Lent is a time to get our lives “more in tune with God’s expectations.” It is a time to get the rhythms of our life in harmony with God. Sometimes that can be done easily. Other times it requires intervention.
I am grateful for the skill and care of those who looked after me in Wichita. I am grateful for a congregation that cares. I am grateful for a staff and a Staff Parish Relations Committee that have my best interests at heart. I am grateful for God who sustains and strengthens us at all times! I am grateful to have my heart beating “in rhythm” once again. I am grateful for the season of Lent to get my life more in tune with God’s spirit.
Grace and Peace,
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