Ash Wednesday and First Sunday of Lent

& archive, Year B.

Prayer before reading:

Holy Spirit
Open the eyes of my soul
And the ears of my heart
To see
To hear. Amen

Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.

Ash Wednesday and First Sunday in Lent

Just as Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, so the lectionary readings lead us into the Lenten Season. And as we enter into Lent, we also find ourselves in the wilderness. We may think that following Jesus is all about loving people and being present to his preaching and healing ministry. But as we follow Jesus in the gospel narratives, we discover that we are never far from wilderness, from desolate places, from solitude. Following Jesus takes us into wilderness.

The forty days of Lent – the ancient pilgrimage of early Christians as they, and we, journey towards Jerusalem and Holy Week – echo the forty years in which the people of God wandered in the wilderness on their way to the land of promise; the forty days and forty nights of rain and Noah being given refuge in the ark, along with his family. A kind of water wilderness: no sails, no oars, no rudder, only God to steer and to guide the ark to safe landing. Jesus also begins the three years of his ministry with forty days in the wilderness.

It is in this place of emptiness–no buildings, no stores, no noise, none of the daily comforts and activities which tend to shape and even “drive” our lives—that we awaken to the sound of other voices. Jesus found himself confronted with a voice which lured him into the deeper and darker possibilities of how to make sure his ministry would be successful; how to get people to listen, to become aware of God’s presence, how to solve the economic and political problems of the world—especially to find a cure for hunger. But in the silence of that vast wilderness, he turned to another voice – the words of Abba. Abba who offers guidance that frees him from the great lure of using his powers to fix the problems he would face, frees him to lean into God, to fully trust in God’s presence and work in the world.

Lent is a kind of wilderness. These forty days can offer us space where we lay aside certain things in order to listen to God. Last week we were invited into retreat on the mountain where God called us to be present to Jesus, the Beloved. Lent invites us follow Jesus as he walks the long road south from the Mount Herman Range north of the Sea of Galilee, to Jerusalem. Lent calls us to lay aside time and space to be with him on this pilgrimage – the long walk into Holy Week, Good Friday, and Easter. And as we walk, we are invited to listen, to be present with Jesus and those who walk with him.

Prayer before reading:
Lord Jesus
As you walk the road
To Jerusalem
Help me to walk with you
To listen
To be present
As you are present
To God
To others.
Help me hear your voice
Among the many voices
Which lure my attention.
Help me stay
On the road
With you.

Ash Wednesday and First Sunday in Lent

  • 2/20 Monday: Mark 1:9-12
  • 2/21 Tuesday: Mark 9:13-15 2/22
  • Ash Wednesday: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21; Psalm 51:1-17; Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b – 6:10
  • 2/23 Thursday: Genesis 9:8-17
  • 2/24 Friday: 1 Peter 3:18-22
  • 2/25 Saturday: Mark 1:9-12
  • 2/26 Sunday: Mark 1:13-15