It’s funny. I read about churches having to cancel their Ash Wednesday services this year due to bad weather conditions. Of course, that was a hard decision for many pastors and churches to have to make. Then again I read about others whose only wish was to be able to cancel their Ash Wednesday plans. Some people think it’s one of those “Catholic things” we need to get rid of.
Or they may just feel like this :
I look forward to Ash Wednesday, and I try to make sure it’s a meaningful time of worship. Its feel is a bit different than, say, a typical Sunday morning worship service, but something that incorporates our need for God in very particular ways.
This year we emphasized the theme Remember. We did a lot of remembering. We remembered times that God remembered people like Noah, Abraham, Rachel and the people of God. We also remembered that we are called to remember and that we can be pretty bad about that. Finally, we thanked God our sins aren’t remembered.
We wrote on sticky notes (reminder cards) those things we remember that keep us from loving and serving God more faithfully and watched them burn to ash–remember that image the next time you feel unloved and overwhelmed.
After we had played with fire and dirt and remembered the bread and wine, I challenged each person to make fasting a part of how they observed Lent. This wasn’t a program our church was recruiting for. We weren’t going to ask for certain days of fasting. No one has to report to me or anyone else the days they are fasting or what they are fasting from.
It is about recognizing our world needs help. It doesn’t need biased political rants. I doubt Facebook fighting does anything for the expansion of the kingdom of God either. This is a time the church needs to bold and faithful to its calling as God’s people. That statement probably applies at all times, but, right now, so many more of us are paying attention to chaos around us.
So, we should pray and pray hard. Fasting is a part of our prayer. Unfortunately, however, too many of us have gotten away from fasting. And we wonder about the state of the church. Fasting isn’t about getting God to do something really big because we really need him. It’s about recognizing our need for God and finding God’s will. That is what we pray for when we use Christ’s words to pray, right?
What I forgot to mention on Ash Wednesday is this: We’re not expecting everyone to tell us when they’re fasting. We don’t need a record. We trust God will use all of our praying. But if you need help fasting, or if you want to intentionally join with me in fasting, then, by all means, let me know. You may not know exactly how fasting works. Let’s talk.
If you’re finally convinced giving up Coke and Doritos may not be the best way to prepare for Easter, and you know God is calling us to more, then join with us in praying.