Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Coffee and Ashes

I remember when my parents would head off to parent-teacher conferences. Even though I was fairly certain I hadn't done anything all that horrible, and that my grades were fairly good (except for in 5th grade... that was a bad year), I would still be worried. All it took was one bad comment about me... or even one bad comment about one of my siblings... to make the parents' wrath fall upon us all.

So, we'd play and horse around until we looked at the clock and realized they'd be home soon. It was at that time when we'd spring into action. Dishes were washed and dried, the kitchen scrubbed, all floors swept/vacuumed, the bathroom cleaned, the bedrooms straightened up. Of course, trying to get all this done in an hour, while worrying about what would happen when they walked in the door, was quite exhausting. But, we did it. Every year.

Get Busy Cleaning!

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season. This is the time when people look at that clock and realize "Oh crap... He could be here at any time now. Let's get busy cleaning!"

Of course, as we know from Mark 13:32-37, we do not actually know when this time will be. But Lent is the time when we start preparing for it. We look inward, repenting of our sins. We become more aware of our sinful nature, making a more conscious effort to turn from sin. We give up habits which are not good for us. We engage in spiritual self-discipline and spiritual reflection, taking more time with God.

We recognize we must keep awake... we must be ready. We don't want Christ to come back while we're playing and horsing around. We want Him to come when our hearts are clean, and it's obvious the effort has been made to turn our lives to Him.

"And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake." (Mark 13:37)

Keep that Coffee Pot Filled

One thing I don't like about Lent is that we practice this spiritual self-discipline for 40 days a year (46 if you keep it up on Sundays also). And then we slip right back into our lives (some of us do this before the 40 days are even done). Don't get me wrong - I love Lent and all its meaning and practices. But it is something we should be doing year-round. We shouldn't be like the children who just goof around until the clock hits a certain time (or the calendar hits a certain day), and then realize we have to wake up and start cleaning. We should be keeping our coffee pot filled, keeping ourselves awake and ready, throughout the year.

We should be looking inward, and reaching out to God in prayer daily. We should be trying to keep from sin, and praising God for the fact that He loves us even with our sinful nature. We should be reaching out to those in need throughout the year - not just as the clock hits Lent. We should be letting go of those things which keep us from God, and staying away from them every day - not just for 40 days. We should be consistently strengthening our relationship with Christ year-round - not just starting on Ash Wednesday and stopping on Easter Sunday.

So, as you get those ashes on your forehead today, and begin your Lenten practices, remember to keep that coffee pot filled so you can stay awake for the next 40 days, and for the remainder of the year, keeping our hearts clean and turned to Christ.

God bless!

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