Forty Days of Lent

Numbers 13,14… The Israelites left Egypt to go to their Promised Land. 12 spies go to investigate. They’re gone for 40 days. Most of the spies say that entering the Promised Land is impossible. The people grumble and complain. God says they will wander in the desert for 40 years, one for each day spying.

40 days… occurs in the Noah and Jonah stories. Jesus is 40 days in the desert being tempted; Jesus appears for 40 days after his resurrection before his ascension.

‘40 days’ speaks of uncertainty, tough testing but waiting for the extraordinary to happen.

Ash Wednesday…

Today’s Ash Wednesday – the first of 40 days of Lent. (46 actually – ancient traditions didn’t count Sundays!)…

  • Tough times: The Church has observed Lent since the fourth century. Ash Wednesday was the start of a tough disciplined journey of prayer and fasting.
  • The unknown: 40 days can seem a long time. You can’t be sure how things will turn out. Several friends are awaiting the results of cancer-related tests…
  • Learning: We learn through tough, uncertain times. In Lent we listen and look for lessons to learn…
  • Change: Traditions of Ash Wednesday and Lent point to a desire for change: to ‘confess sins, correct faults, purify hearts, control desires and grow in holiness’.
  • Mortality: Ashes speak of our mortality. Last week we attended a funeral ‘on line’. The words were said: ‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes’. We remembered that God made us from the dust as the body was commended to God in cremation…
  • The sign of the Cross: Many Christian traditions have an Ash Wednesday service. The priest puts a cross in ashes on the foreheads of each in the congregation. An outward sign of inward intent…
  • Looking forward: The cross reminds us that Lent is a preparation for the extraordinary events of Easter. Tough times will end. There is a God-plan behind uncertainty and mortal frailty…

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