Psalm 51:10: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
A Reflection On Fasting (from Spill the Beans Worship)
sackcloth and ashes,
giving up something…
Trying to be extra kind
instead of giving something up?
Images of you as angry
and wanting us to feel miserable,
of you as not being very nice!
So, the day’s lectionary readings…
well, Matthew seems to be saying
whatever we do on the fasting front
we need to do it secretly and quietly,
and that prayer,
spending time talking with you
and listening to you,
is part of the picture.
The psalmist is definitely into a heavy
sin and guilt trip
but he does ask you for wisdom
and knows that you look for integrity
and truth in our lives.
Paul tells us
that today is the day to act,
rather than tomorrow.
Joel tells us
in urgent tones
to stop in our tracks
and come back to God.
And then there’s Isaiah
who has some very clear ideas
as to what fasting is about:
to take burdens off people,
to work for justice,
to share food with those who are hungry,
to share hospitality,
to give clothes to those who need them.
So God, how am I going to keep Lent?
By turning to face you?
By sharing food and hospitality?
By being active in organisations
and movements that seek for justice?
By keeping what I’m doing or not doing a secret?
By thinking and reading and experiencing
what you are really about?
It is Ash Wednesday.
Time for fasting.
Time to turn away from the bad stuff.
Time to turn to God.
Today is the first day of Lent where many Christians take ashes (often made by burning last years Palm crosses) and make the sign of the cross with them on their foreheads. As the ashes are placed, usually by a Priest or Minister, the following phrase is spoken:
Remember that you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.
From dust we come,
to dust we will return,
we belong to God.
Bless us now at the beginning of Lent,
hear our regrets,
Keep us close to you, God.
Keep us close to you.