It’s Ash Wednesday, and I thought in lieu of creating new content (because, who needs that?), I’d offer up a selection of posts I’ve written on Ash Wednesday/Lent.
And if you are looking for some reading, may I suggest the excellent anthology Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter. There’s a daily reading all the way through Easter, from the likes of C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Henri Nouwen, and (my fave) Frederick Buechner. I read it every year. This year, though, I’m going to read Prayers for a Privileged People, by Walter Brueggemann. It seems apropos, especially considering that Lenten passage Isaiah 58:1-12…
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58:6-8)
I’ll report back here, I’m sure, on my readings. Oh, and another book rec: God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, another book of readings by Richard Rohr, Kathleen Norris, etc. In the meantime, though, feel free to peruse my own Lenten offerings from years past:
“I pray that I will come to Easter, not victorious over a successful fast, but broken over my inadequacy to defend the helpless, to share with the hungry, to love the stranger.”
“Is my life marked by choosing what is ‘small, humble, poor, rejected, and despised’? Absolutely not. In fact, the truth is my life is marked by the opposite. Time and again I choose what is large, successful, shiny, enviable, attractive, powerful. My resistance to poverty is so great I find myself having to pray, ‘God, help me to want to want to say yes to your invitation to know you through poverty.’”
“And Lent is all about descending, and staying down, crawling on the sea floor under the inky black pressure so that on Holy Saturday—after death has been defeated—we see a ray of light cutting through the waters. We swim up to it, and it carries us like a vertical current so that on Easter Sunday we burst into the sunlight, gasping for breath, but laughing too.”
I think if you asked me, at any point in my life as a Christian, whether I thought there were limits to God’s love I would say no. But last spring, in a collection of essays for Lent, I read a piece by Madeleine L’Engle, in which she included this story…
“We’re not sacrificing pleasure so that we can have little piles of ashes to lay at the feet of an angry God…we’re sacrificing ourselves–our time, gifts, and attention.”