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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Givens

I'm dying (and so are you)

My friends, the season of Lent is upon us. And with it comes a general repentance among most Christian denominations. Indeed, today is Ash Wednesday, a day when we are reminded that we are dust and to dust we shall return. In Psalm 102 we’re reminded

 


Source: https://www.mercyhome.org/blog/sunday-mass/reflections/ash-weds/

My life fades like a shadow at the end of day and withers like grass” (verse 11, Contemporary English Version).

 

The truth is life is short. There’s no way to get around it. One day our names will be called, and we’ll shuffle off this mortal coil. This is the destiny of humankind.

 

It’s a fact many of us know all too well. How many of us have lost loved ones to the Final Enemy (death) all too soon? I’m guessing all of us have been affected by this in some way.

And so, on Ash Wednesday, we are offered a reminder of the fleeting nature of our lives. It would be easy to feel that all of this is hopeless.

 

But that’s not the end of the story.

 

You see, the same One who offers constant reminders of how short our lives are also loves and cherishes us beyond measure. Jesus tells us,

 

Aren't two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground. Even the hairs on your head are counted. So don't be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:29-32, CEV).

 

And

 

Can worry make you live longer? Why worry about clothes? Look how the wildflowers grow. They don't work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn't as well clothed as one of them. God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. God will surely do even more for you! Why do you have such little faith?” (Matthew 26:27-30, CEV).

 

And so Lent not only reminds us of the brevity of our lives, but also of the loving, caring nature of our God. The one who tells us not to be afraid. The same God who fashioned the universe holds each of us in the palm of his hand. This should bring us comfort.

 

But the other purpose of Lent is to call us to repentance. You see, all of us have missed the mark. We have chosen to love the world and the things of this world rather than fulfilling the greatest commandments we have received,

 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, 'Love others as much as you love yourself.' All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 12:37-40).

 

I heard a preacher once say that if we only focus on the fact that God loves us, we are neglecting to preach 99% of the Bible. I disagree. In fact, I believe that 99% of the Bible is summarily stated in the above verses. If you need further proof, check out 1 John 4:8:

 

God is love, and anyone who doesn't love others has never known him” (CEV).

 

And so in the eyes of this loving God who has commanded us to love him and to love others, we are deeply cherished. But we are also deeply faulted. For which of us completely loves God and loves others with all of our hearts every single day?

 

I know I don’t.

 

And so we are called to repentance. I want you to forget all of the theological baggage that this idea of repentance has carried for so long. The simple meaning of the word has to do with changing one’s heart and mind away from evil.

 

So we spend this time of Lent in a spirit of repentance and prayer, asking God for forgiveness and changing our attitude toward one of love for God and others. Many Christians choose to give up something for the duration of Lent in order to be reminded of the need for repentance, choosing to spend time they would otherwise be distracted in prayer and communion with God and others.

 

Perhaps I’ve already gone on too long. But all I want to say is, this season of Lent, let us repent for the times we have failed to live up to the measure of God’s love for us and for each other. Let us instead turn our love toward those around us and the God inside of us.

 

Father, forgive us for the times we haven’t loved you in the way we should.

Forgive us for times we have let pride and greed overwhelm us.

Forgive us for the times we have failed our neighbor, choosing to love ourselves instead.

 

Thank you for reminding us that our lives are short.

That we whither like the grass that is blown away by the wind.

We are extinguished quickly like the flame of a candle.

 

And let us change our hearts and minds.

Let us continue to grow into the people you created us to be.

Into people that follow your greatest commandments:

To love you with all of our hearts, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

 

For in you we find a love that leaves the 99 to seek out the one who is missing.

And in your life, we find our lives.

 

Amen




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