On Ash Wednesday many Christians throughout the world will hear some version of these familiar words: “Dust you are and to dust you will return.” It is said in the context of imposing ashes in the form of a small cross on the foreheads of worshipers in many Christian traditions.
Lent begins tomorrow. These are the forty days that Christians have historically set aside to prepare for Easter through repentance and renewal. It gives us space to admit the struggle: that although the defiant joy of Christ’s victory is ours, it came at an unimaginably great cost.
Many people talk about what they are giving up for Lent. Giving something up for Lent is a practice that is supposed to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. But that sacrifice was to show us how much God loves us. I am pretty sure God would be OK if, instead of giving something up for Lent, we used the Lenten season to take up something positive. This year let’s find something positive that we can add to our daily routine during Lent. Here are some ideas:
- Do one act of kindness every day.
- Make a Lenten gratitude journal by writing about one thing you are grateful for every day.
- Pick one of your strengths and find a way to use it every day. If you are into photography, aim [unintentional pun] to take one good picture every day.
- Contact a friend or loved one every day. Use Lent as a time to reconnect with people you haven’t heard from in a while. Send an email or pick up the phone and call someone.
- Do some form of exercise every day. It could be a short walk around the block or doing sit-ups while you watch American Idol, but just do it!
- Make sure you get adequate sleep every night. Stop scrolling through Instagram or pinning photos to Pinterest so you get to bed early enough to get the sleep you need..
Yes, Lent is a time for repentance.
It is also a time for reaching out with God’s love.
Christine Sine has said, “Lent is a time to daydream, to imagine new possibilities for the in-breaking of God’s new world.”