Lent 2019: Day 1, Ash Wednesday
Jesus, the Source of Our Belief
A Note About Lent: As I was putting the finishing touches on the second Lenten journal, in which I was involved, I thought of my Love Speaks Daily Readers. I had not spoken to you in a while and felt compelled to take this journey with you. As I was trying to think of a way to frame this adventure of trying to say something of value, the phrase “40 Things I Love about Jesus” came to mind. And so, I’ve decided to share with you 40 of the millions of reasons why Jesus is still the best thing that has ever happened to me. It is my hope that my reasons are reminders of your own reasons for loving Jesus. I hope that these brief reflections inspire you to bask in knowing the One who cares for your more than anyone can ever understand. I hope that you are reminded that whatever is going on in your life, there is One who knows all and sees all and walks with you through all. As always it is my hope that Love Speaks Daily to you.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. According to the UMC, “Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: our sinfulness before God and our human mortality, helping us to realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship. Historically, ashes signified purification and sorrow for sins. It is traditional to save the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday service to burn to produce ashes for this service.”
While I didn’t grow up observing Ash Wednesday or Lent, in the last 10 years of my life I have. Most times when I participated in the imposition of ashes, the minister said, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” However, a time or two, I’ve heard, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Today as I think about Jesus, the word believe is resounding in me.
Anyone who knows me, knows that since childhood, my favorite book of the Bible is the Gospel of John. Also, anyone who knows me knows that my favorite Bible verse about belief is John 3:16. In case you don’t know the verse by heart, it says in the NKJV, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
This verse reminds me that Jesus is the Source of our belief, the reason why we have hope, the reason why we have eternal life. Sometimes, my humanity gets in the way and I forget that I cannot save myself. I may be able to take God’s direction in order to be saved from one thing or another, but ultimately, it is God through Christ Jesus, who saved/saves/will save me. Even at my most sinful, Jesus Christ says, “I am your source for salvation, redemption, and restoration. You must simply believe.”
John 3:16 reminds us all that salvation is not earned. We cannot make enough money, climb the career ladder high enough, or be good enough to obtain eternal life. Yet, it is easier to obtain it than doing any of that. All we have to do is believe.
Today, as you observe or think about Ash Wednesday and the rest of this Lenten season, consider this thought: God has given us everything we need to experience God’s love in eternity, and the doorway to it is simply to believe in Jesus Christ.