Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday Reflections

(Note- I'm using Lent and Easter Wisdom from Thomas Merton as my Lenten devotional this year. I'll be blogging the journaling prompts most days.)

"Even the darkest moments of the liturgy are filled with joy, and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten fast, is a day of happiness, a Christian feast." ~Seasons of Celebration, p. 113

Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite liturgical holidays, but a day of happiness? Lent a season of celebration? I've never thought of them in that way. The ultimate outcome of this season: the Resurrection? Sure, that's joyful. But I've always thought of Ash Wednesday and Lent as fundamentally solemn times that make the joy of Easter that much greater by contrast.

But now that I think about it, there is joy to be found in Lent, particularly in Ash Wednesday. It reminds me that while I have a lot of responsibility- as a husband and father, as a pastor, etc.- the fate of the universe or the eternal salvation of even one single person doesn't hinge on how well I do in these roles.

That doesn't absolve me of the responsibility to be faithful to these tasks, but it does take a lot of the pressure off. I can have courage and even feel emboldened to take risks, because I trust that I will be forgiven when (not if) I mess up. This all works because God makes it work, and I get to be part of making it happen.

So as solemn and somber as this day can be, let's not forget the joy to be found throughout Lent, not just at the end.

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