Message for 14 February 2018 (Ash Wednesday)

Welcome to Lent, a period of forty days historically celebrated as a time of preparation culminating in Easter. Lent is sent, but how is it spent? Lent repeats every year, and some folks say that they look forward to the pleasant rehearsal of this tradition. Other folks report that holy days come and go but nothing seems to change and that Lent becomes just another routine leading nowhere. Which outcome do you expect? As always, the attitude empowering your perception determines an outcome.

Lent isn’t magic. Whether your view of Lent is more positive or negative, whether you’re skeptical or believing, Lent is an invitation. As to what it is that you’re invited to, that depends. Personal transformation and revitalization don’t occur automatically but through introspection and an intense willingness to close the gap between who you were and what you’re becoming. The pivot point, the critical crisis is now, the present moment wherein you decide to better manage your attitudes and actions. What helps enhance life is what Jesus referred to as the great commandment, which is loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (and loving your neighbor as yourself). When you are hyper-conscious—mindful—of your loving, holistic nature then you can embrace a life fulfillment not otherwise possible.

Whatever it is that you value in church holy days, at least they are stimulating reminders of the deeper aspects of life that you can leverage for spiritual health. You are invited to expect more than what comes of passively sitting through yet another repeating liturgical season. Lent can even be detrimental when it’s reduced to a static, overly formal façade. Don’t let this happen to you! God’s Spirit energizes you for a spectacular, transforming journey, surpassing the anesthetizing status quo or the merry-go-round of recurring calendar days.

Lent can be a reminder that the power of the Almighty transforms deep from within yourself. Rather than an exercise in deprivation, Lent invites you to begin a journey toward spiritual renewal. Lent is a catalyst that can advance new attitudes and actions. Every how many times you’ve rehearsed Ash Wednesday or any other aspect of Lent, strive to intentionally own your holy days. Choose to immerse yourself in love rather than withdrawing into a suffocating soul-sleep. Are you partnering with God for a fantastic spiritual journey? Ash Wednesday’s opening is as good a time as any to begin the revitalized life that you need and deserve.

Lent need not have anything to do with dietary restrictions or eating fish on Fridays. No, that model of participation is disappearing and for good reasons. The mechanical rehearsing of church liturgical holidays and imposed institutional traditions doesn’t guarantee spiritual health (and can often undermine it). Your enhanced life will more likely arise from a transformed way of thinking and acting, from a consistent, three-hundred-and sixty-five day immersion in God’s love. Whatever you think of Lent or any other church season, partner with God for a continually holy, blessed existence. In this way, you will achieve that wonderful life of love-empowered, holistic wellbeing.