On Ash Wednesday, many Christians receive the mark of the cross on our foreheads in ash, hearing the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
We begin the season of Lent with ashes, a powerful reminder that we are human: imperfect, mortal, broken.
We begin the season of Lent with the sign of the cross, a powerful reminder that we are marked by God: vital part of God’s creative and redeeming work in the world.
Lent is a season of reflection, repentance and drawing close to God.
We will spend the 40 days between now and Easter’s celebration of the Resurrection taking a look at ourselves, using the traditional practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to grow in faith and in connection with God.
What does that look like?
Some people will make prayer a priority in Lent. Their days may not look much different from the outside, yet they will make time to offer thanks to God, ask God for guidance, pray for the needs of the people and world around them, and pray for all sorts of other things. This will help them connect with God more fully, and care for their neighbors more intentionally.
Some people will make fasting a priority in Lent. They may give up a favorite treat or a not-so-good habit or some social media. It may be quite obvious that they are fasting or it may not. They will use their Lenten fast to change how they spend their time and move their focus more often to God and loving their neighbor.
Some people will make almsgiving a priority in Lent. They may make donations to people in need or causes they care about or projects that make a difference. Or they may give alms through volunteer work in the community. Through the various kinds of giving, they will move closer to God as they respond to the needs of their neighbor.
Lent is a time of preparation, reflection and growth that draws us closer to God.
It is not a time of sadness or misery, nor a time for excessive self-criticism or self-denial.
While we are human and broken in a variety of ways, God claims us, loves us and uses us to carry out the work of transforming the world. God knows exactly who we are and still uses us to bless the world.
Alicia Anderson, Campus Minister