If you are unable to attend a service, then take time today to focus on being open to the meaning of Lent. I call it being Crosseyed- keeping yourself aware of the cross of Christ and the Resurrection that would follow. Assuming you don't have any ashes handy, I suggest that you take a piece of charcoal or some sort of marker and mark yourself with the cross. Pray about the things in your life that you need to let go of- the things you REALLY need to repent of. Look at the mark of the cross on your body. Do people see the mark of Jesus on you everyday?
The ashes are a mark that are easy to put on, easy to see- and easy to remove. But what does the mark of Jesus look like in the lives of those who seek to follow him? It does not show up on the faces of dour sourpusses who see God as a great cosmic killjoy. It does not show up in the lives of those who see church as means to a political end or an institution placed here to promote causes in which they believe. Instead, it looks like compassion and a love that surpasses all understanding. It shows up when we reach out to the lost, the hurting, the under-resourced and the broken. The mark of Christ is visible on us when we put the needs of others ahead of own wants and desires. The cross shows up in our souls when we understand that Jesus came and died and rose again for the very people our world so often rejects, and when we reach out to them with love, respect and a helping hand. Jesus said that if we love him we must "feed his sheep." Not just the pretty cheep. Not just the sheep who agree with us. Not the sheep who have it all together. ALL the sheep. Our task is to love them all. And by this love they will know we are his, and that we bear the mark of Christ.
So wear the mark with humility, with hope and with compassion. The world needs to know that this 40 day adventure we begin today ends in life, not death; it ends in love, not judgement; and it ends in joy, not sorrow. Lent may point to the cross, but it ends with the Resurrection- and we are a Resurrection people. Wear the mark of Jesus so that the world may know...
Because of Jesus,