Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. It is a 40 day period before Easter where we are invited to examine our hearts and draw closer to God. Traditionally, people fast, pray and give.
This morning we gathered in the Chapel where Rev Tim explained the meaning of Ash Wednesday and Lent with a fun quiz. He also challenged staff and pupils to consider TAKING UP or GIVING UP something to grow closer to God. You could ‘give up’ complaining, a secret sin, gossip or social media for example; or ‘take up’ praying more, reading your Bible with a reading plan, read a Christian book or write down three things you’re thankful for every day.
As we left the Chapel, Rev and the Chapel Stewards offered ashes to those who wanted. The ashes are traditionally made from burning the palm leaves of the previous year’s Palm Sunday service (the Sunday before Easter). A cross is made on people’s foreheads symbolising repentance and our mortality. Life is short and focusing on God (and beyond this life), matters, for now and for eternity.
Although many people give up chocolate or some bad habit, Lent is about stopping things that are destructive to your soul and turning away from them. One can also start something that breathes life into your soul. It’s also helpful to choose something small and ask someone to hold you accountable.
So take a moment to reflect:
- Do you like the person you are becoming?
- Is your pace of life sustainable?
- Are you taking care of your body through regular exercise as well as proper eating and sleeping habits?
- Have you compromised your integrity with finances?
- How are your significant relationships?
- Is your heart for God growing or shrinking?
Tough questions. Perhaps tiring to even consider.
So reflect on one area of your life that needs attention and choose something that will enrich your life.
Maybe you want to spend 2 minutes in stillness at the start and end of your day; or give thanks for 3 things every day; or choose a reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app; or cut down 10 minutes of social media per day and pray instead or read a Christian book. Maybe you want to be more generous.
Always remember that you can never earn God’s love or approval – you already have it; Lent is about paying attention to what prevents you from being all who God intended you to be.
Whatever you choose to do (or not do) may you find the next 40 days a time of growing closer to Jesus and going deeper into His love, and may the change be noticeable to you and others.