Ash Wednesday…? Why should it matter

“Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lent season.  It’s important that we observe the inauguration of the Lenten season as we  join ourselves (fellow Christian believers all over the globe) together, placing ashes on our foreheads and praying prayers of repentance. 

Courtesy of Somersault Group

The purpose of Lent at a macro level is to remind us of the cost of sin.  We no longer have animal sacrifices to remind us as in days of old and it’s easy to just throw a prayer asking Jesus’ forgiveness skyward and move on.  Lent is a Christian season that guides us toward Good Friday and ultimately shows us what our redemption cost. 

On a micro level we often give up something for Lent.  The tradition is that you give up chocolate or coffee etc.  Although a cute tradition, it’s a little misguided.  During the forty days of Lent we invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what has fallen out of alignment.  We ask that we be given eyes to see what has come between us and God.  Not all things in our lives are bad, but when they come between us and Jesus we are oriented to them rather than God.  We then choose to give them up for a season so that Christ can re-integrate them into our lives appropriately. ” 

—–(Quote above – From Father Brian Hardin of Four Winds Anglican Mission ) —

Ash Wednesday is a time to reconsider, to reassess who we are and how we are living… as the popular Christian rock/pop band Switchfoot says in one of their great lyrics… “Are We Who We wanna BE?” Not in the negative context per say… but in the contemplative and open to hear God tell us anything kind of way… are we?

So let me encourage you to consider taking a moment today to consider Ash Wednesday as more than a catholic event, or more than an “old” church experience, maybe it’s time to consider observing this time-honored Christian tradition of faith. Maybe even include your kids, your family and your friends in this process? Who knows… there are a lot of Wednesday night bible studies and prayer groups out there in the Christian expanse of faith and family who just might find this opportunity life-giving. I know I sure have.

As families, it might be fun to consider together what you might need to “re-align” in your home in preparation of Easter. Less media, more sun, or less pizza and more veggies… this doesn’t need to become a “religious” exercise, keep it real. Honest and authentic… in forty days, let me/us know what happened?

I can guarantee you, God will speak if you take the time to get quiet enough to hear.

Peace out RTP.

brad.

Using Duct Tape to save Thanksgiving !

Sorry for the awkward title… no this isn’t a new crazy recipe or menu suggestion.

This Thanksgiving I’m choosing personally to be content. That means I’ve put some mental duct tape (my metaphorical censor) on my mind and mouth for the duration. Words that have been banned are… “Should have”, “I wish”, “Too bad” and anything sarcastic. Thoughts no longer allowed include…”any ideas that associate or dwell on guilt”, “anything that pauses to regret” and anything with “a random comparative criticism of anyone or anything”.

Con·tent·ment
(noun ) 1.the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind.

Wow… so it IS true. Content is the “state” of being contented. It’s a state of mind, a place we determine to go to, not a destination we arrive at. I’ve watched and seen so many times as I’ve visited and participated over the years with various family and friends holiday events… their beautiful and precious family moments often de-evolved from the happy and joyful occasions they were designed to be…into frustrated and irritating debacles.
Why ?
Is it possible we’re looking and living too much in past memories or distracted by our future hopes? So often in doing so we miss the actual life we are supposed to be living in the present ? It’s kind of tragic… life is so short, so precious.
If you’re doing what we do… somewhere in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas, you’ll be reading the latest Southern Living edition and planning to host the perfect meal or holiday party with Paula Deen or Martha Stewart’s most innovative and elegant advice. We always seem to start out with the greatest intention of preparing everything just as we saw in the pictures…only to fall short somewhere between the pile of laundry in the living room and the dirty guest bathroom toilet bowl.
Let’s step back a second BEFORE we get to Thursday’s special family day and give ourselves permission to fall a little short. To cut ourselves and those we love some serious slack for not being more mature, or considerate or helpful. Let’s be prepared to live in the now, the present and let’s agree to welcome the reality of today with all of its flaws. To position ourselves to enjoy what we have and not long for what we don’t.
Costco and Kroger ( i have discovered 🙂  have amazing options for last-minute thanksgiving dinner bailouts ! After all, when you slow down and think about it, our homes are meant to be safe places, lived in and loved, not pristine and beautiful testaments to our domestic prowess. Remember, we are allowed to actually Enjoy the food we prepare. We are allowed from time to time to eat too much, sleep too much, watch tv too much and simply be grateful, happy, relaxed with life as it is… A STATE OF CONTENTMENT.
Thanksgiving is about remembering what we have… not fretting about the things that always seem to elude us. We have each other, we have our life and homes and families, flawed and broken though they are. They are with us now. Don’t let them slip through your fingers in the time we’ve been given to embrace and enjoy and love those in our immediate and extended family.
Paul said it this way in Phillipians 4:11-12 (the Message) “Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am”
I’m asking you to join me in the self-censorship of the negative and instead make a determination to be hopeful. Families, this year let’s strive to seek to be “available” to those we love, to be “accessible” to those we care about and “attentive’ to the needs of more than those outside our homes. It’s easy for us to volunteer to help out with the distant downtown homeless and the occasional downtrodden stranger… but isn’t it time we do the same with our own families this Thanksgiving?
Peace out my RTP friends… HAPPY TURKEY DAY !
LOVE to you… Brad.