Ash Wednesday

Today is for Western Christians the first day of the season of Lent. Many will gather at churches early in the morning or at noon or in the evening for a service of the imposition of ashes. Some will even do a “drive through” service where they can have a cross placed on their forwards, made of ashes created from last years palms and hear the words “from ashes you came, to ashes you shall return, repent and believe in the gospel.”

Depending on one’s church tradition it is also a time to “give up” something. When my children were little the list included candy, cookies, “root beer anything,” sodas and sweets of all kinds. For me, the list often included coffee and any caffeinated drinks, chocolate, fasting at a meal or a day a week. It was all very traditional Lenten disciplines. All good and important things to do, but a step toward something deeper.

In recent years there an alternative focus on taking something on for Lent instead of giving something up. For example, instead of giving up coffee, a person will take on an act of kindness. In our culture, giving things up sounds so negative where taking on something sounds more positive.

I am not convinced that always being “positive” helps me grow. I don’t need constant negativity, or nastiness, but there are things in my life I need to give up, more than my annual joke about giving up liver and onions!
I ran across this article from the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd of Old Bridge, New Jersey. They ran an article about the forty things to give up for Lent.

Each of the forty days, I have challenged myself to blog on each thing to give up. On this first day of Lent the challenge is to give up “Fear of Failure.” How perfect for this first day. Like New Year’s resolutions, lenten disciplines often do not last longer than a few days, maybe a week.

I don’t think that means one should not make a choice to do something specific for Lent whether it be fasting from a meal or from chocolate or spending more time with scripture or reading or with family or friends. NOT choosing for fear of failure means also a choice not to grow or develop or deepen one’s faith.

Fear of failure keeps all of us from kinds of things that could make life more meaningful and rich. Fear of Failure keeps us from trying and traveling and testing and experiencing life in all it’s heights and depths. Fear of failure keeps us from remembering that “perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4: 18)

So today, I give up my fear of failure and embrace failure as a pathway to growth and to grace and to love. So the forty days of Lent begins and I begin to take each day and give up things that keep me from being fully God’s. May your lenten journey bring you closer to God and grace abundant.

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