This past week marked the beginning of the Lenten season as well as Ash Wednesday. I've never been to an Ash Wednesday service and have always wanted to.
I'm not sure why this is not a part of many church practices. Are we afraid of the liturgy or of being associated with something with which we're not familiar?
Growing up I ever really participated in following any traditions related to Lent. Yet I love the idea of sacrificing something (usually irrelevant and often relatively trivial) personal for a period of time leading up to the celebration of the sacrifice of Christ. My giving up coffee for a month is so insignificant, but every day I am reminded of my small choice and therefore reminded of the reason for it.
At the recommendation of a friend, I have also been striving to add in something beneficial to my daily spiritual diet. Nothing huge, but it's a small step.
I've always understood and respected the importance of regular time spent in scripture and prayer with my Lord. But hardly have I been capable of following through on any kind of good habit. I set goals, make resolutions, ask for accountability, and still I find myself disappointed with my lack of effort.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn't make me a better person or a better christian if I have daily devotions or if I don't. Yet I know the benefits. My heart beats truer and my spirit is fuller. How can I say I have a relationship with someone whom I never talk to? I can see how friends from high school and college have fallen by the wayside because we never take the time to talk or meet or even email anymore. I think about them, sure, but if asked whether or not we have a relationship I would have to say no.
I don't want to have to admit that God is a friend from the past. I want to put time, effort and love into my relationship and see actual growth and purpose. My time at work is spent teaching children and adults how good it is to worship God, how fun. And I mean every word I speak. My time leading music is something I treasure deeply.
I just don't want my heart to feel so stale and always find myself wishing I was more committed.
This month I am at least trying to keep up with the daily Lenten readings and prayers. If I'm honest, I know I won't make it every day. Maybe as I remember not to drink a cup of coffee and choose tea instead I'll remember to pull out my book of common prayer.
This week we were smudged with ashes and chose to receive communion for a reason. Even the baby got a smudge for the very first time and I want to be able to set a precedent for teaching her meaningful traditions and finding the depth in church history to lead into true relationship.