Ash Wednesday – Don’t Turn Away

I have been doing some thinking about what is said to us in our church when we receive ashes on Ash Wednesday.  The person marking our heads says, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

Sin was once described to me as that which keeps us from God.  In other words, sin is separation from God.

It is those words “turn away” that have me thinking.  Do I really want to turn away from sin?  Could that also mean ignoring or not acknowledging my sins?  What if we said instead something like “Show us our sins and draw us closer to You”?

There was a post going around on Facebook on Tuesday about a Lenten de-cluttering challenge that really resonated with me.  The graphic originated from the website White House Black Shutters.

Are you following where I am going with this?

It was a tradition for many years in the Catholic church to give up something for Lent.  That has changed a bit over the years as it was proposed that instead of giving up something we might do something good instead.  Maybe the idea of giving up something was actually intended to give up something that keeps us from God, but that intention was a bit lost.  Giving up coffee, for instance, is in most cases not something that keeps us from God.

Still, maybe if we looked at giving something up in another way such as decluttering, the meaning of giving something up might be redefined and meaningful.  Decluttering can surely be a physical act, but it could also me a mental act if we consider clutter as things that get in the way of or obstruct our relationship with God.  You could maybe also call that clutter “road blocks”

Inspired by the 40 Bags for 40 Days of Lent challenge, I am going to commit to getting rid of at least one thing in my house each day.  (A bag a day seems like more that I can truthfully commit to.)  Like many if not most Americans, I have definitely fallen into the trap of over consumption of stuff.  I am also going to prayerfully consider what else might be getting in the way of my relationship with God.

I decided to start the 40 bag challenge on Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) because I figured there was no harm in starting right away.  The picture below shows a bit of my first intentional “letting go.”  I started with the little drawers in our sofa table, but that led to going through my stashes of candles and table linens elsewhere in the house.  That led to doing a bit of purging from those other places too.

(I did end up doing something with all those candles, but I will save that for another post.)

Lord, draw me closer to you.

After I wrote this post I was reading my email devotion for today from the Upper Room.  When I took the Strengths Finder test a few years ago, it said that Connectivity was one of my strengths.  I also learned that people who have this strength can sometimes find connections where there are really not any.  That said, this email devotion today seemed to fit right into this post to me.

  Come, Holy Spirit!

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