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ash-wednesdayToday is Ash Wednesday. Today the liturgical season of Lent begins.

During Lent, the alleluia in the liturgy is not said or sung. In some churches, the more celebratory decorations are covered up. The color is purple and the time is one of penitence and mourning.

I will get ashes this evening.

Ashes that remind us of our sin. And the sins of the world. And the need for a redeemer. And savior. And healer.

Lent is a time of reflection and lament. During Lent, and especially during Passion Week, we look forward to the death of Jesus, even as we have the flame of resurrection hope burning in our hearts.

During Lent, the people of God have traditionally fasted in some way. Growing up, we never officially practiced Lent, but many in my youth group would give up TV or computer games or soft drinks.

And I think that is all good. It’s in the spirit of the ancient season, at any rate–deprivation forcing us closer to God.

Nevertheless, fasting from food reminds us of our mortality because we experience hunger. And fasting from food brings us, in a small way, into solidarity with the poor and hungry and starving people that Jesus has called blessed.

So, by all means, give up your luxuries. Give up your soda or alcohol or video games. I will join you. I am giving up watching shows on Netflix. Cutting out excess is good.

But I encourage you, also, to give up food in some way. To intentionally sacrifice something you need. To go beyond giving up out of wealth and to give up out of need.

And so, for the duration of Lent, I will abstain from eating any meat. And, on Fridays, I will eat nothing.

I feel in my bones the stirring of God’s Spirit—urging me towards renewal of faith and embrace of spiritual discipline. In light of that, I will replace the Quote of the Week blogs I have been doing with a Lenten reflection. Quote of the Week will move to Mondays, and Video of the Week will cease during this season.

Additionally, I will spend the time I have freed up from watching shows on Netflix to embark on a new creative project. I’m not sure what that will look like yet, but I have some ideas.

I leave you with this today:

Father in Heaven,
Protect us in our struggle against evil.
As we begin the discipline of Lent,
make this season holy by our self-denial.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever