Ash Wednesday

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(Glitter) Ash Wednesday

Published March 2, 2017 by thinkinbout

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My favorite color is glitter. It’s true, I even have a shirt that says so. So you’d think I’d be the first one to jump on the glitter ash train! Actually, I couldn’t even get to church at all this Ash Wednesday since I have two kids under age two at home. But, anyway, let’s explore what these glitter ashes mean. According to the Washington Post, “The Glitter Ash project,created by New York nonprofit Parity, encouraged clergy to mix glitter into the ashes this year, to represent the inclusion of LGBT people in Christian life.” Wow, that’s nice, and pretty, I bet.  Not being facetious. I bet it really was pretty.

To be honest, it is a shame-SHAME- that gay people have felt, with VERY good reason, excluded from the Christian community.  Sadly, that is the one proclivity that has met with more disdain and scorn than any other. Just think of the Westboro Baptist Church, those of “God hates fags” fame.  And the Bible does have much to say about homosexual behavior–as it does about lying, stealing, and drunk behavior, but for some reason, those just haven’t been seen as “bad” as homosexual behavior.  But even Jesus told the religious leaders of His day that prostitutes would see heaven before they would.  Yes, sin is serious-and that’s why Jesus came, to deal with the problem of sin.  And, good news!-we ALL have sin and proclivities that need to be overcome! So we should rejoice that, even though we will deal with sin until the day we die, God does not reject you BECAUSE you deal with one sin or another, meaning, yes, of course our sin condemns us, but what I mean is, you aren’t condemned solely because you identify as homosexual…or are an alcoholic, fornicator, etc.  If we truly love the Lord, we will struggle against our demons. Sometimes we will give in to them.  Thank God for Jesus.

However, I do not agree with this Glitter Ash trend at all.  When the priest rubs the ashes on your forehead, he says, “From dust you came, from dust you shall return.”  The symbolism of ashes goes much deeper than that, though.  Let me just give two examples.  One, think of Job.  In the last chapter of that book, titled “Job Replies to the Lord” in my Bible (CSB), Job says to God, “I had heard rumors about You, but now my eyes have seen You.  Therefore I take back my words and repent in dust and ashes.”

The second example is of Queen Esther.  This is from chapter 4, verse 3. Esther has found out about a plot to kill the Jews:  “There was great mourning among the Jewish people in every province where the king’s command and edict came.  They fasted, wept, and lamented, and many lay on sackcloth and ashes.”

In each instance, ashes are associated with repentance.  With a deep sadness over sin.  So when Julie Zauzmer of the Washington Post writes, “People are responding with such joy that they can show their faith and show that they are LGBT,” said the Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, executive director of Parity. “LGBT people are people of faith, too. … On the day, Ash Wednesday, when Christians are publicly Christian, we are going to be publicly queer,” she, and everyone involved in this latest SJW craze, is, frankly, wrong. They are cheapening, indeed, misunderstanding, what the ashes mean, but also placing the focal point on themselves, or at least a community of people, instead of the One on whom the focus should be. Lent is never about us. Easter is never about us. Nothing that should put the focus on God is EVER about US.  WE are not what it’s all about.

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Blog 1 for Lent-Ash Wednesday

Published February 10, 2016 by thinkinbout

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I have a daunting goal: I want to blog each day between Ash Wednesday through Easter about spiritual things. Of course, having an 11 month old at home may render this impossible, but I’m still going to try.

I, at least right now, think I will mainly be blogging about my thoughts and reflections on what I’m reading in Scripture. That happens to be the book of Jeremiah…not very Easter-y or Lent-y, or Ash Wednesday-y, but hey, it’s where I’m at.

Today I read chapter three of Jeremiah, and a portion of the chapter deals with “true repentance.”  3:19-22 says, “I thought: How I long to make you My sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of all the nations. I thought: You will call Me, my Father, and never turn away from Me. However, as a woman may betray her lover, so you have betrayed Me, house of Israel. This is the LORD’s declaration. A sound is heard on the barren heights, the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy, for they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. Return, you faithless children. I will heal your unfaithfulness. ‘Here we are, coming to You, for You are the LORD our God…’

And, verse 25: “Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our fathers, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.”

Can you not feel the emotion in God’s voice?? He wants to give His children good gifts, but they (we) constantly turn away. He, as the text says, longs, for us!! Have you ever felt that longing for someone?  Of course. Can you imagine God feeling that way for YOU and then turning away from Him?  Yes, I bet you can. Can you imagine longing for someone only to have them reject you? Isn’t it the absolute worst feeling in the world? That’s what we do to God all the time. Thankfully there is that one line that in verse 22 that promises if we return to Him He will heal us.

Contrary to what I have heard time and time again, Christians don’t believe that if you simply say you’re “sorry” about some sin or other, we can be sure that God will forgive us, and we can go on our merry way. That holds true ONLY if it is done with a contrite spirit, true repentance. Attrition is what most non-Christians seem to think we believe. They think we believe that a couple Hail Mary’s here, a simple, Oh, sorry I cheated on that test, there, will suffice. NO WAY. That is not true repentance, a sorrowful, deep, deep “sorry-ness” for your sin. Recognizing sin is the first step. One must understand that sin is a turning away from a perfect, holy, and just God to do what is deliberately contrary to His Word. And He only accepts a turning away from sin, a profound desire to leave it behind, as true repentance. Verse 25 describes true repentance succinctly.

So, in a way, this actually does tie in nicely with Ash Wednesday. In the days of the Bible, people would show their sorrow and repentance by putting ashes on their heads. Think Job or King David. It was a sign of deep, deep sorrow, but also of a truly repentant heart. That’s the sign we convey when we have ashes placed on our foreheads this holy day.