Ash Wednesday

The Very Reverend Steve Lipscomb, Dean

This seems an odd way to begin Lent, doesn’t it?
(Lent—a word which actually means “spring.”)
And we begin with snow and cold and only a few gathered (able to gather) to mark the beginning of this holy season.

But here we are, and Lent has begun. Regardless of the weather—ready or not—Ash Wednesday is upon us.

We come to pray, to ask forgiveness of our sins, to be marked by ashes and reminded that we are indeed creatures—humans—formed by God out of humble stuff—hu-mas (earth)—reminded with those sobering words: Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.

The discipline—the custom—that most of us have adopted for Lent is to give something up. And while that discipline of self-denial is an integral part of Lent, it seems to carry a range, depending on our own seriousness of what we are undertaking, from the silly (giving up something that isn’t that important to us) to the profound—putting away, for a time something that carries a great meaning or stock in our life, or putting an end to some habit or behavior that is harmful to us or, perhaps, blocking a closer relationship with God.

And done thoughtfully, and undertaken seriously, self-denial, self-examination, repentance are an important part of observing a holy Lent.

But there is another discipline or calling in Lent that we often miss. It is the call to not just give up things, but to take on things. In the Lenten Invitation after the call to self-denial and fasting, we are reminded that Lent is a time to increase our prayers, our meditations and our reading and study of Scripture. Lent is a time of taking on as well as a time of putting away.

So, just a reminder to you today, as we once again hear the familiar words of invitation and observance—to listen.

And during this holy time, let us put on the whole discipline of Lent – a Lent of giving up and of taking on.

Let us “return to the Lord with all our hearts, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

May we seek the Lord where he wills to be found. And May God create in us clean hearts and renew in us right spirits.

And may it be so in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.