Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Devotions For Lent: Ash Wednesday

About Lent
Lent is the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday until Easter. It is a period observed by Christians as preparation for Easter, involving fasting and penitence.
Christians started observing Lent in the fourth century, with strict self-denial and self-examination marking the period. A central practice of fasting included the exclusion of luxury foods like meat, dairy products and eggs. Today, Catholics refrain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. 
There’s no Scriptural requirement to observe Lent—ultimately, it’s just the six week lead-up to Easter Sunday in the church calendar—but many Christians find it helpful and inspirational to observe the Lent season in some way. Generally speaking, when people observe Lent, they commit to a spiritual activity—prayer, Bible reading, reflection, self-denial, service, etc.—that will sharpen their understanding of Jesus Christ’s own sacrifice as described in the Bible’s account of the first Easter.
Besides fasting, Christians may also voluntarily refrain from "bad" habits during the 40-day period – anything from eating chocolate to watching TV -- as a way to imitate Christ’s life.

Lent is 40 days to represent the 40 days Jesus Christ spent fasting in the desert after he was baptized by John the Baptist.

This year, Lent begins on
Ash Wednesday, February 18 2015
(That's Today!!!)
and ends
Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lent—the season of reflection leading up to Easter—provides an excellent opportunity to embark on your own devotional journey.
Here are some options:
Once a Week Devotionals through Christian Aid (An organization, working to bring an end to poverty around the world - tackling its root causes as well as its effects.)
Throughout the Lent season, I will be reading through some of each of these devotionals and sharing, here on my blog, some of the highlights from them. Feel free to use any of the above, or stop back here to read what I have to share. As I get started , and with this being Ash Wednesday, I want to just share a short excerpt of the introduction from the Christian Aid Devotional.
When Jesus went into the wilderness, it was not an easy experience. For him, as for the Israelites after their exodus from slavery in Egypt, it meant being vulnerable to all the dangers of the wilderness: hunger and thirst, exposure to the elements, with nowhere to hide. It meant being alone, with only God to turn to. 


Isaiah, in a passage that is often read on Ash Wednesday, spoke eloquently about fasting.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord
 Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I
(Isaiah 58:5-9)
 How can we best respond to the invitation to count our blessings today and throughout Lent?
Lord Jesus, 
May this be the fast we choose- 
  • to hold in our hearts the women who walk miles for water that we turn a tap on for, 
  • to never take for granted the food that we eat, however plain it is 
  • to complain less and campaign more, 
  • to share our bread in gratitude, that we have bread to share. 
And as we count our blessings, 
  • Inspire our giving, our acting and our praying that, just a little, they may help to lose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free, and to satisfy the needs of the afflicted. So may all who fast share in the feast of life. 

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