Tag Archives: lent

today: spring(ing. into life) is here. and lent, too.

“Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation. We renounce to be reborn; we let go to become ‘little Christs’. It’s about this: We break away to become.”
-Ann Voskamp (buy this book, though the quote is not from it… and you’re welcome.)

it’s your love that we adore; it’s like a sea without a shore
-David Crowder, Sometimes

On Ash Wednesday, two photo shoots sandwiched a meeting and then a quick run. I headed to my sister’s house to help her pack boxes, because next month she marries and moves east to North Carolina. A day so full left no time to have my forehead crossed with ash, that external symbol a smearing reminder of repentance, that human glamor will come to an end. Instead I crossed my heart and hoped to be present in this season’s invitation to new life. Easter comes in a few short weeks, and new life blooming all around testifies of the beauty we are made to live, that beauty held in tension with an earthquake pushing tsunami waves reminding us to be mercy. This beautiful world is cracked, fragmented, broken, and I believe we are invited to heal, to hold, to redeem. We accept that invitation by yielding to a God who humanizes humanity…

Trying to grow a business while working for another as well keeps me busier than I’d like, and I want to pause on this season and be present to God and to those in my community. I hunger for transparency, for change. I hope it comes. I believe it is possible.

Daily, though, I pull away, to walk the dog and run some miles, and my head clears. The wind cools, as the sun finally warmed winter away. The pace of a walk or run through my neighborhood allows me to see the subtleties of the season shifting: a new bud yesterday, flowers today; nests cover once naked branches; the earth between sidewalk cracks speckled green. Nuance, perhaps, but they tell me that new life arrives in season, with time, unforced. It is natural.

I wonder, then, if perhaps when new life is not appearing in this life it is because I have set my sights short, and settled for poor-replacement synthetics instead of allowing God to be himself in circumstance, identity and the combination of the two. His way, higher than mine or ours, provokes these thoughts, I think. And my soul humbles. My knees fold. How I want that way to grow within me. The possibility of healing the broken, holding the hurting and redeeming the world beg for belief in this grace that is new life…

(Thoughts incomplete.)

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today: lent, thekingdomishere.now.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it…”

-Isaiah 30:15

So it’s Ash Wednesday, and that means the time has come for Lent. The liturgical calendar has helped me find a rhythm for walking with God these past few years. He is good to give minds to create tools and symbols so that we can better understand who He is and what He is like. We cross our foreheads with ash to remember Jesus and his sacrificial life. We cross our foreheads as a symbol of our repentance.

I am in Bellingham, WA for a few days, and the groundhog didn’t have a shadow or something this year. It is mid-February, but spring appears to have arrived. I went for a run today and pondered the Isaiah verse as my Ash Wednesday reflection. The word “repent” resonates heavy, often, I think. And indeed, the implications are heavy. Stop sinning. Live righteous. Choose a different path. Or something like that.

The ancient word literally means to turn around. In repentance and rest is your salvation, in turning around, back towards the Sovereign God… but Israel never managed to do that. But I want to. My feet pounded the ground as I ran and considered salvation that is grounded in repentance and rest. Salvation?

I think we all know we are in need of salvation of one kind or another, whether we adhere to the way of Jesus or not. There are parts of us that are broken, things that don’t work right. God’s invitation, then, to turn towards Him and rest in His sovereignty takes the heaviness away from repentance. It’s not that it is not weighty; it’s just that He bears the brunt of it. And He is faithful. That is the God story I believe. And it is real. It is compelling.

In repentance and rest is salvation. Jesus talked about a Kingdom that is God’s that is here on earth right now. And then He spent his life and death and resurrection showing what that Kingdom was like. He loved people, individually, communally and globally. He healed. He touched. He looked at suffering. He smiled at children. He humanized humanity.

The early part of the Jesus story ought to have been the end. People who’d watched his life brutally ended it, unable to accept someone living a reality that required a redefinition of expectation and behavior. They could not turn towards Him. They could not repent. They did not rest. Salvation is here, though, because of Him.

May this season of Lent be one where repentance and rest mark the way of our collective journey and individual journeys. May a quiet kind of trust emerge as our strength. May our perspectives conform to the One who humanized humanity. May He rewrite our hearts so that we can see. Salvation is here. The Kingdom is here. Life is full. Life is good.

I finished my run and came home to my best friend’s baby girl, who was born a scant nine days ago, and when it is hard to believe redemption is possible, an infant in my arms reminds me that we have reason to work out salvation and the implications of the Kingdom of God. An infant in my arms, an early spring run and a few words in Isaiah fused with the idea of Ash Wednesday helped me turn towards God today. Tomorrow it may be something else. Salvation is here.

today: ashes

Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.
Genesis 3:19

The minister at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington where I attended Ash Wednesday services today said that our lives are windows to or paintings of the Kingdom of God. That resonated. I rarely attend services with traditional liturgical trappings, but whenever I do, I love the connectedness with the church throughout history. Today, the emphasis on fasting and repentance to begin preparing our hearts for Good Friday and ultimately Easter made me contemplative. I suppose that’s how it’s supposed to work.

ash

As he crossed each forehead with ash, the minister quoted Genesis 3:19, and as I knelt at the altar, I thought about what it means to be human. I returned to my seat and thought about what it means to be fallen. And the significance of the words the minister had said started to play about my heart.

Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.

We are but dust, yes.
Dust, with life breathed into us.
By the living God.
And so we are but dust, yes.
But something more.
We created are the ones
He called good.

I thought about Jesus a lot today. Here is God who was willing to become dust, and when he returned to dust, he overcame death. The extent of the love of God is vast, unfathomable and perfect. His great love saved humanity before any of us were more than Creator’s dream. That is the story of redemption.

Contemplating this Lent season has made me want to do the disciplines of self-examination and prayer and fasting well. Because I want to see and understand and grow as a follower of Jesus.

I knelt again during communion as the minister explained the sacrament, thankful. The cross on my forehead washed off after my run, the external symbol gone. And so the season of Lent has begun, and we are invited to cut back for a little while in preparation for the feast. We are invited to recognize we are returning to dust… but with great hope breathed into us by the giver of life. And so we lift our lives as prayers, as thank yous.

pray