It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been to an Ash Wednesday service. I’m glad I went yesterday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Being there helped me discover something to give up for Lent this year.
Ashes to ashes, from dust unto dust.
The cross on our forehead, your promise, O God.
Ready to follow the way of your Son,
to rise from these ashes, redeemed in the fire of your love.
The verses are adapted from Joel 3. Here are two of them:
Rend your hearts, not your garments;
return to the Lord
who delights when we offer
a truly humble heart.
Let us fast from unkindness
and turn from our greed,
giving bread to the hungry
and lifting up the poor.
What better things to give up for Lent than unkindness and greed? Quitting those might afford me more time to consider the needs of others, particularly the hungry and the poor – the kind of people Jesus regularly showed interest in.
I have to admit I’m quickly intimidated and overwhelmed by wondering how I can respond to the needs of the poor. Thankfully I don’t have to figure this out on my own. The final verse of the song assures me of the help of God Himself!
Though his nature is holy
yet Christ became sin,
so that we might inherit
the holiness of God.
(Chris Brunelle’s cover of “Ashes to Ashes” is here.)