Tag Archives: Ash Wednesday

Journey of Lent – A Poem

Lord of all creation
wandered in the wilderness
40 days of hunger and temptation

Eternal life set aside
for just a time so that it might
be ever available to His beloved

Name above all names
sacrificed for you, for me
His very life to set us forever free

Throne of grace
once again His proper place
where justice and mercy reign

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Sharing Day by Day

With the approach of Lent, I’ve been pondering whether I would give something up this year or add a daily habit as I have done in the past. I thought about blogging every day for Lent, like I did in 2010, but I have a lot going on right now and have been enjoying the freedom of not feeling like I have to post something every day. Then I thought about taking an extended break from blogging, including not checking my blog stats or reading other blogs, so that I would have more time to focus on the new Bible Study Fellowship study I am starting tonight. I was leaning towards the latter option.

Then yesterday in church the sermon was based on Acts 17:16-34 (NIV) about Paul’s missionary efforts in Athens. Verse 17 says “So he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.” I decided then that I would blog every day instead of giving up blogging for Lent.

But still I was concerned about how I was going to accomplish this. Then last night as I was trying to go to sleep a poem started forming in my mind, keeping me awake. I recently placed a small notebook and pen next to my bed to write down poems or other blog ideas so that they would not get lost like the poem that was the subject of a recent poem of mine titled A Poem Lost. So I flipped on the light, scribbled down the beginning and ending of this poem so that I could finish it later (I will be posting it tomorrow). I turned out the light and as I again tried to sleep it occurred to me that I could write a short poem every day for Lent. It will require the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this task, but with His help I can.

So beginning on Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent, I will be posting 40 new poems, one for each day of Lent (not counting Sundays). As Paul did, I will be sharing God’s love day by day as we approach Holy Week and the blessed death and resurrection of Jesus.

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Mad Is Easier than Sad

As we enter the Lenten season, and I ponder the sins I struggle with, a thought occurred to me that encapsulates my struggle: mad is easier than sad.

In other words, when someone hurts me and I feel sad, it is easier to decide to be angry or mad about what they have done than to feel sadness. If I decide to be mad, then I can cling to the illusion of control that is absent in the midst of sadness.

But the control I feel really is only an illusion. When I choose anger instead of sadness, I have given over control to the devil because it is the devil who wants to see me angry and unforgiving.

As I opened my Bible to our scripture readings for the Ash Wednesday service last Wednesday, my eye fell upon a passage that preceded our reading. We were reading from Matthew 6, but my eye was drawn to these words of Jesus:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV).

This is not the only place in scripture where we hear Jesus telling us to not be angry. In fact, He says that if we do not let go of our anger and forgive others then we will not be forgiven. See Matthew 6:15. He also tells the wonderful parable of the unmerciful servant who is forgiven a huge debt by his master, but then refuses to forgive his fellow servant’s debt owed to him. Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV).

It is clear from scripture that as easy as being mad may be, it is not what our Lord wants for us or from us. Anger and unforgiveness are serious sins that need to be repented of. I must turn to God and ask His help in overcoming this sin.

As I thought about how much easier it is to be mad than to be sad, it occurred to me that the latter is not a sin. Nowhere in scripture (that I am aware of) does God tell us not to be sad and to turn from our sadness. In fact, in the beatitudes Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (NIV). In Romans 12:15, Paul tells us to “mourn with those who mourn.” Mourning and sadness are not a sin, but an acceptable response when we encounter trials and tribulation. Even “Jesus wept” and mourned. John 11:35 (NIV).

During this season of Lent, my goal is to turn to God and turn away from the sin of anger; to seek His help in being more forgiving. I want to not take the easier path, but to take up my cross and follow Christ.

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To Repent in Ashes and Sackcloth

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent. If you are interested in the history of Ash Wednesday, check out the Our Redeemer Lutheran Church website.

The focus of Lent is often on giving up something, of sacrificing something to draw us to a closer understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. But this year for Lent, I think I want to focus more on the repentance aspect of the season that is signified by the ashes of Ash Wednesday.

Even in Old Testaments time, ashes were a symbol of repentance before the Lord. The prophet Daniel wrote: “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3 (NIV). Perhaps this is what we should be doing for Ash Wednesday and during Lent – turning to God and pleading with Him in prayer, fasting, and in repentance. It seems to me this would help us keep our eyes more on Him and less on ourselves and our own sacrifice.

Jesus also spoke of repentance in sackcloth and ashes:

Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” Matthew 11:20-24 (NIV).

We have been told of an even greater miracle than the cities of Korazin and Bethsaida. Eye witnesses have told us of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection – the greatest miracle that has ever happened! When we believe, we experience the miracle of having the Holy Spirit come to dwell in our hearts and the regeneration of our hearts that follows.

As we travel through the season of Lent towards the celebration of the miracle of the resurrection, the knowledge of this miracle should lead us to repentance. Dictionary.com defines the verb repent: “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better.” To truly repent, we can’t just feel sorry for the wrong we’ve done, but we must also turn towards God and ask Him to help us do better next time we are faced with temptation.

So during Lent, I want to turn towards God and seek to know Him better. I want to be in awe of the miracle of His grace and love.

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The Beginning and End of Discipline

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which is a period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) until Easter. Traditionally, Christians (as least in the liturgical denominations) have given up something for Lent in order to participate in and better understand the sacrifice of our Lord. In addition, the sacrifice is supposed to bring one closer to God as He becomes that which fills the need or desire otherwise fulfilled by the thing given up. Some people give up chocolate, or desserts of any kind. Others give up watching TV or eating meat. There is an endless variety of things that one can give up, or sacrifice, during the Lenten season.

Last year for Lent, I decided that instead of giving something up for Lent, I was going to commit to doing something, and I blogged about it on Feb. 19. I fulfilled my committment to blog something positive every day for Lent. That was the beginning of a discipline of writing that has now developed into daily posting. And it all began with one short post and a committment to praise Jesus for His love and sacrifice for 40 days.

Colie and Wordstrong Poster

This year, my local congregation is doing something similar for Lent. We are participating in a program called Wordstrong. It involves each member of the congregation committing to reading God’s Word every day throughout Lent. Last Sunday we received our reading schedules for Lent, and we have arranged prayer partners to pray for discipline for the rest of the congregation throughout this time. Those who chose to participate signed a poster pledging their committment.

I am excited to see where this Lenten discipline takes us as a congregation. If what happened with my committment to blog every day is any indication, we should be a congregation for whom this Lenten program is just the beginning of a discipline of being in God’s Word on a daily basis. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

So if committing to doing something every day for Lent is the beginning of discipline, what is the end of discipline? It is to develop a closer relationship with God. The discipline of reading the Bible every day will draw the believer closer to God, so that they may hear when He speaks to them. It is much easier to discern God’s will if one knows God’s Word.

The true end of discipline is a relationship with God that results in an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

So what do you plan to do, if anything, for Lent? Have you ever done something for Lent in the past, and if so, what was the result? Did it bring you closer to God? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Whatever you decide, I pray you will draw closer to our Lord as we approach the celebration of His death and resurrection.

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