Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the 40-day journey of Lent.
These 40 days are deeply symbolic in our Christian faith. As the next 40 days pass, we remember the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering from God - attempting over and over again to save themselves, relying on their own strength and understanding. Like the Israelites, our plans - as good as they may be - will not suffice. We cannot save ourselves.
During these 40 days of Lent, we remember the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, facing isolation and temptation. Unlike the Israelites, and unlike us, Jesus - Lord and Messiah, as the true son and image of God, remained faithful to the father, making a path in the wilderness, preparing the way for the good news of God’s salvation to be extended as a gift of grace to all creation, and to us.
Us. the lonely. the wandering. the broken and the breaker of others. the mourning and the bringers of sadness. the sinful. the hurting. the addicts. the prideful. the deviant. the afflicted and the inflictors.
During Lent we recognize that on our own, our path leads to death and decay. To ashes and to dust.
In Genesis 3, the rebellion of creation against the creator results in a series of curses. The snake, the tempter, is cursed. The ground is cursed. Human beings, male and female created in God’s image, are cursed: for dust you are and to dust you will return.
Today is Ash Wednesday, and we remember how true that is: for dust you are, and to dust you will return.
As we move through Lent, we'll consider the life of abundance that Jesus invites us into and question the things that keep us from embracing life to the full. Aaron Niequist, a liturgist and friend of Open Door, has created an experiential liturgy of confession and penance that we invite you to enter into today.
This liturgy - A New Liturgy No. 3: Lord Have Mercy - is available as a free download from Noisetrade this week and is beautiful starting place for the journey we'll be on together.