ASH WEDNESDAY MEDITATION

 By Thomas Bracewell

 

 

  

Originally, the word “lent” meant Spring in the old English. I don’t know why we identify spring with a time for cleaning, but we do. In a very real sense, for the church and for her people, Lent is meant to be a time of spiritual Spring cleaning as well

 

This past week I did some Spring cleaning in my home office. Debbie remarked about the improvement. As I though about our observance of Ash Wednesday, I was struck by the similarity between what I did in my office and what we are called to do in the 40 days which lie before us.

 

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New Testament:

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The first thing I did was to dust and to attempt to clean out the cobwebs. Dust and cobwebs, they are the signs of neglect. They only collect in the areas where there is no activity. There was little dust on the top of my desk, but plenty of it on my bookshelf. There is no dust on my telephone, or on my computer keyboard, but there was quite a bit in the corner where I stack things I know I really need to do, but figure I can afford to put off for a while. Spring cleaning reminded me of some important things I had neglected.

 

Lent is a season which calls us to clean out the cobwebs which infest the corners of our spiritual lives and to shake the dust off of our spiritual disciplines. It is a time which calls us to refocus on things of God and of his kingdom. Lent is a time to begin reading God’s word daily, a time to begin praying, not just occasionally, but throughout each day. Lent is a time to make a commitment to regular worship attendance and honest stewardship. Lent is a time for a holy dusting

 

The second thing I did in my office was to throw out a lot of stuff. Some of it was just trash which I had been too lazy to gather up. Some of it was things that I know I will never use again, but which I was strangely afraid to get rid of. But I did and now I am glad. Now, for the first time in a while, I know pretty much what is on my desk and what is stacked around my office. And for the first time in a while most all of it has a purpose.

 

Lent is a season which calls us to throw away some of the things which are cluttering up our spiritual lives. It is a time to take spiritual inventory, a time to ponder whether there is trash in our lives that we have just been too lazy to throw away. Lent is a time for us to just get rid of some of the stuff in our lives that we know is of no real use, but which we have been afraid to get rid of. Lent is a season which calls us to dispose of the clutter in our lives, so that we might concentrate on the things that are most important.

 

The last thing I did in my office was to reorganize some things. Some files needed to be combined so that I could find information more readily. Some important things needed to be given more prominent places, while some less important ones needed to be moved to the side.

 

Lent is a time for us to empty ourselves and to be refilled, putting the big things into our lives first.

 

In a moment you will be invited to come forward and to have ashes imposed on your forehead. You will be reminded that you are mortal, you will be encouraged to repent and admonished to trust God as you believe the wonderful promises found in his gospel.

 

As you leave the altar, and then the sanctuary this evening,  I challenge you to covenant with God to make these next 40 days a time of spiritual preparation. Perhaps you will give up something or take on some new discipline. Maybe you will commit to begin some acts of charity. Or perhaps you will pledge to mend some broken relationships. I do not know what discipline you need to take up this season, but God does. And he calls you to do some spring cleaning. To dust off some things that have been neglected, to throw away some things that are of no lasting value, to reorganize your hectic life, and to prepare yourself for a fresh coming into your life of the resurrected Lord. For your sake and for the sake of the Kingdom, let it be so. In the name of the father, and of the son and of the holy spirit. AMEN.