“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” -Ecclesiastes 3:20
We planted some trees when we moved to our house a couple of years ago and yesterday I walked around the yard and checked on my trees. Spring is coming, the flowers are starting to grow and we see life returning to seemingly dead branches on the trees. Those tiny buds will be new branches and leaves before long and I was worried that some of them hadn’t made it through the winter very well. That, and I know the goats have been trying to get over the protection fences to nibble on the branches!
Just as the seasons change, our spiritual lives need renewal and refreshing. The season of Lent is a time for reflection and repentance. It is a 40-day season beginning with Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) and Easter Sunday (not including the Sundays). In those 40 days we remember Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and prayer during his temptation in the wilderness. Traditionally, people would fast or “give up” something for Lent in order to identify with Jesus. The hope is to grow closer to God through the continual reminder of giving up that earthly desire to think upon more heavenly things. Or perhaps people add a spiritual practice of daily scripture reading or prayer times, in order to be reminded of our need for God.
God’s desire is for us to really live our lives, not just survive them. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10), but not every season of life is a party. Some seasons are filled with reflection and repentance. It is through the process of reflection and repentance that we can truly celebrate God’s work of forgiveness and restoration. Remembering that we are dust, as we place ashes on our foreheads reminds us that this life is fleeting and that what we do matters while we have breath in our lungs.
As we embark on the season of Lent, may you find yourself drawing near to God in ways that bring you life. Find a new opportunity to care for someone else. Eliminate a distraction from what is truly important to you. Commit to prayer and reading Scripture and ask God to show you something new. I hope you will join us through the season of Lent in worship. We will examine ordinary, everyday objects to see God’s faithfulness and leading “In Plain Sight” together.
God, your love never fails. May we celebrate your presence and work in our lives. May we reflect your love in the lives of others. Give us opportunity to draw nearer to you this Lenten season and give us life. Amen.
Pastor Hanna Peterson Shearer