I participated in Ash Wednesday for the very first time last week. It was the first time for many of us at our church since we do not normally follow “high church” liturgical traditions. However, over the past few years, I have really come to respect, and in fact, VALUE some of these traditions and rituals in a way I never thought I would. There’s something about them that “sets the stage” for a more sacred space, a re-alignment of your heart and posture of worship that I’m finding more and more appealing.
Growing up, I had the viewpoint of God as the judgmental, vengeful Almighty who was trying to catch me in the act of doing something wrong so He could punish me. That I was going to hell if I didn’t shape up. If I wasn’t “good.” And of course, I never could measure up. So for many years, I figured He wasn’t a God I wanted anything to do with. It’s taken me quite a while to start feeling the “friendship” aspect of Jesus. The friendship that someone has defined as “knowing the heart of another and sharing one’s heart with another.”
I want that closeness to develop and grow deeper and deeper. I most definitely want My trust in Him to grow so much that I AUTOMATICALLY confide in Him and understand so completely and confidently His “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” that I do not worry or fear any longer. I want to know His Heart more. I want Him to share His Heart with me more and more.
But the danger is being too casual in this relationship. To ignore or forget His sovereignty. To not be in AWE of who He is.
That’s where I seem to need some of these traditions and rituals. After reading through Leviticus about the exacting measurements for the tabernacle and rituals pertaining to offerings and festivals, I felt I needed to define a sacred space for my morning devotions. I have a special corner in my living room where I’ve placed meaningful items as reminders, much as the Old Testament patriarchs piled up stones as markers to remember what the Lord did. I’ve gotten in the habit of lighting a candle, too.
I started this post pondering ashes.
It seems I’ve have taken off down a path that I hadn’t originally intended, but since ashes denote purification, among other things, I guess it’s not entirely off-base.
Ash-pondering to continue next time….