Today, we enter into a new season in the life of the church – the season of Lent. Lent is a 40-day long journey of introspection. During this season, followers of Christ engage in a variety of spiritual practices to prepare their hearts to mourn the death and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This preparation is not meant to be easy; in fact, it’s really hard. For during the season of Lent, we commit to facing our own demons – to confronting our own mortality, confessing our sin individually and as a community, and repenting and returning to God. This is the inner work to which we are called during Lent.
On this Ash Wednesday, we invite you to begin this journey with us. Below, you’ll find a poem by Malcolm Guite, an Anglican priest and poet. Read the poem slowly a couple of times. Is there a phrase or a line that speaks to you, that touches your heart? If so, spend some time in prayer, asking God to speak to you through it, to reveal what lesson it holds for you this day. Then, spend some time in confession. Open your heart to God, naming the areas in your mind and in your life that need to be transformed, the places that need the light of God shined into them. If you are uncomfortable doing this individually, find an Ash Wednesday service near you – or join us at 6:30 pm.
Friends, let us take the first step on this Lenten journey with humble spirits, inviting our God of grace to change our hearts.
A Sonnet for Ash Wednesday by Malcolm Guite
Receive this cross of ash upon your brow,
Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s cross.
The forests of the world are burning now
And you make late repentance for the loss.
But all the trees of God would clap their hands
The very stones themselves would shout and sing
If you could covenant to love these lands
And recognise in Christ their Lord and king.
He sees the slow destruction of those trees,
He weeps to see the ancient places burn,
And still you make what purchases you please,
And still to dust and ashes you return.
But Hope could rise from ashes even now
Beginning with this sign upon your brow.