Last week, on Ash Wednesday, instead of getting rid of something, I decided to take on something for the Season of Lent. If you’re unfamiliar with Lent or Ash Wednesday, here’s the Cliff Notes version: Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a 40-day period of sacrifice, reflection, and preparation for Easter Sunday. The ashes of Ash Wednesday are a stark reminder of human mortality. From dust you came and to dust you will return. When I receive an ash cross on my forehead, it reminds me of my mortality and innate need for a Savior. All of the possessions in this world do not and will not matter when I take my last breath. What is important, however, is my relationship with Jesus Christ. While the ashes are a reminder of penance, God’s perfect love is available to all those who accept Him and His grace. Christians parallel the 40 days of Lent with the 40 days Jesus spent alone in the desert. Jesus was tempted — physical hunger, wealth and world power, and testing God’s goodness — but conquered temptation with the Word of God. During this Season of Lent, I am clearing out the cobwebs, ignoring the distractions, and preparing my heart for Easter Sunday by diving into God’s Word. I have accepted the #LentChallenge of reading the New Testament in 40 days. You can accept the challenge and use this easy-to-follow READING GUIDE too.

* Sowing Seeds = Less Talk & More Action *
Matthew 9:36-38 — When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send our laborers into his harvest.”

We reap what we sow. Am I sowing seeds of love and compassion or oppression and selfishness? Am I part of the problem or the solution? Am I willing to be part of the harvest? Am I hospitable towards believers and non-believers? Do I welcome folks into God’s house, or push them away? Am I willing to sacrifice my comforts to struggle with those who are hungry, sick, and severely oppressed?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, love, and compassion. Open the eyes of my heart so I may see the needs of your children and recognize their goodness. May the acts I do in your name be louder than the words from my mouth. Loving God, help me sow the seeds of justice and love in order to reap the abundance of life. This is my prayer. Amen.

* God Calls Us into Relationship with Him *
Matthew 11:28 — Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

God created humans to be in relationship with Him and others. We are social and relational beings! According to John Wesley, founder of Methodism, being in right relationship with God, the world, others, and oneself is not only the will of God but also the essence of holiness.

Holy and Living God, thank you for always being behind, beside, and ahead of me. Help me nurture my current relationships and push away my expectations and personal agendas. Pull me closer to trust and fully depend on you. This is my prayer. Amen.

Come along this Lenten journey and dive into the New Testament for 40 days. The reading guide is graciously provided by Margaret Feinberg.