Daily Reflection
February 21st, 2007

Joan Blandin Howard

Christian Spirituality Program
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Ash Wednesday
Joel l 2:12-18
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17
2 Corinthian 5:20—6:2
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

There is a country western song, sung by classically trained Russian musicians that goes… I know I’ve been gone too long, when going home feels like moving on.

Ash Wednesday is, like the words of the song, ironic. It is the beginning of Lent, a time when I am invited to re-member who I am in God’s eyes, in God’s heart. The anointing of ashes reminds me that I am nothing – I came from dust and I will return to dust. But the invitation is to re-turn to the most significant of relationships. God’s desire is that I open myself, re-turn to God’s constant love, peace and mercy. In the experience of God’s gentle love and mercy I will also experience the shame and confusion of my brokenness. Lent is not about my digging about in my darkest self and dwelling there, it is about moving on more deeply into intimacy with God, coming home to God the source of all goodness, light and love.

The gospel tells me that whatever deeds I do- almsgiving, prayer, fasting – must come out of a genuine response to God’s love, not performed in order to gain God’s love, or impress others. Deeds are meant to be reflections of the growing intimacy between me and God. And maybe, my unique sign of love will be something entirely different – unique to me! In the intimacy of our relationship I will know the proper response for me to make to God.

Lent is the season of deepening intimacy with Jesus. An exciting time. Jesus came because of the great love for me, for all of us. Jesus stayed and Jesus died for love of me, for all of us. A pure gift from the Lover to the beloved – me, you, all of us. What did I ever do to deserve this love? Nothing – again the irony. I have not earned this love, but am continually invited, coaxed and being lured into this rich and holy relationship. I will come to know, God will reveal my brokenness and that I am lovable and I will want to give back, to respond lovingly to this gratuitous love. As I walk with Jesus these next 40 days, I beg to share in his joys and friendships, as well as his sufferings, trials, and betrayals and to invite Jesus into my own sufferings, trials, and betrayals, as well as my own joys.

This is the good news of Jesus: come with me, walk with me, eat with me, laugh and weep with me. And I with you. Be not afraid. Let me tell you, about you. Listen with your heart.

How ironic – that I am of so little worth, yet of such great value!
Blessings on your Lenten journey.

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