Repentance. Reflection. Celebration.
Tomorrow the church universal will celebrate Ash Wednesday. This church holiday marks the beginning of the season of Lent—the roughly 40 days before Easter. Historically, Christians have used this season to highlight three themes.
To repent means to turn around. The idea is to recognize the parts of your life that are heading away from God, and to turn toward God. Repentance is a turning away from the thoughts and habits that lead to death. It is the choice to turn toward the God who is shaping and forming us into new creations.
Repentance is not easy because it involves being honest with one’s self. I would much rather imagine that I am perfect— or at least good enough. But that is not true. Ash Wednesday asks us to recognize the parts of ourselves that are not in line with God’s goodness.
The process of honest self-examination naturally leads to a season of reflection. We can ask ourselves deeply rooted questions such as, “What led me away from God’s goodness?” Or, “What do I need to do to get this part of my life back on track?”
The reflection process should be surrounded in grace.
All of us have fallen short and all of us are freely given the grace of God in response. Forgive yourself for the failures of this past year. Go ahead and forgive others while you are at it.
Remember— “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
The season of Lent begins with repentance…but it ends in celebration. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday…it ends on Easter.
40 days from now we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. God raised Jesus from the dead and in doing so has effectively conquered death. By placing our faith in Christ, we too can move from death to life.
Easter should be one of the happiest days of the year! It is a day of immense celebration for what God has done on our behalf.
But…we don’t start there.
The Lenten journey begins with repentance, travels through reflection, and culminates in celebration.
You are invited to join us for the beginning of this journey with our virtual Ash Wednesday service tomorrow, February 17, at 7 pm. You can stream this service at www.unitypres.org.
I will be passing out packets of ash today and tomorrow from 4:00 to 5:00pm right outside the main sanctuary entrance. Feel free to stop by to pick yours up so that you are prepared for the service. Children will be given a special Lenten packet that was put together by our Children’s Director Bailey Beam.
Our practice at Unity is to study one topic throughout the season of Lent. This Sunday we will begin a new series 40 Days Of Wisdom.
See you on Sunday!
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the training videos for the Lincolnton church plant https://www.unitypres.org/lincolnton/.