Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

February 14, 2018

 Today is Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday takes on a somber tone.

          If you are new to church, you may appreciate some clarity regarding this date on the Christian calendar.  Ash Wednesday falls forty days ahead of Easter, minus Sundays.  Sundays are viewed as dress rehearsals or trial runs ahead of Resurrection Day.

          Ash Wednesday moves around on the Christian calendar.  It moves because Easter day moves.  The date of Easter is observed the first Sunday after the spring equinox, right after the first full moon.

          Back Easter day up by forty days, minus Sundays and we arrive at Ash Wednesday.  I know.  That’s about as clear as mud!

          What is easier to understand is that Ash Wednesday is our entry into the season of Lent; and, forty days from today, not counting Sundays, we will observe the resurrection of our Lord.

          The season of Lent can be likened to seeds that have been planted underground.  After a period of rest, the seeds will germinate, bursting forth with energy, ready to bear fruit for the world.

          Lent is a time for us to rest patiently, to center our lives fully around Christ and prepare to germinate on Easter morning when we will bear fruit for the Kingdom.  OK, so let’s talk about the Kingdom a wee bit.

          There is a hymn entitled, Alleluia, He is Coming that helps us understand this notion a little bit better.

I looked up and I saw my Lord a comin?
I looked up and I saw my Lord a comin?
Down the road…Down the road.

Hallelujah, He is coming.
Hallelujah, He is here.
Hallelujah, He is coming.
Hallelujah, He is here.

          Martha Butler does a pretty good version of this song:

          So, what does this mean?  It means Jesus is coming and Jesus is here.

          This is still confusing.  How can this be?  How can Jesus be coming and be here all at the same time?  It may help to look to some of Jesus’ words for a clearer understanding. 

           In the Great Sermon, Jesus told the crowd, “Therefore do not be anxious or say, ‘What will we eat or what will we drink or with what will we be clothed?  For the people of the world look for these things.’  Your Father who is in heaven knows that all of these things are also necessary for you.  But first, you look for the counsel of God and His goodness, and all things shall abundantly be given to you (Matthew 6:31-33 Aramaic text).”

          In Jesus’ tongue of Aramaic, the Kingdom means God’s counsel, which is always joy, peace, love and harmony.  So, the Kingdom was ushered in by Christ.

          The Kingdom is here but it is still coming.  And, faith tells us that the Kingdom will ultimately come in fullness.

          During Lent, we alter life to conform to the Kingdom.  We put all else other than God’s counsel on the backburner of the stove.

          As seeds, we focus on the energy, the vibration that is occurring inside of us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  We can lick our wounds during Lent.  We can practice self-denial.

            We can even focus on the apostle Paul’s mockery of death, “Death, where is thy victory?  Death, where is thy sting?  But, thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55 & 57 RSV).”

          We can use these forty days to grow in our Christian walk and to relinquish life’s burdens and woes to the one who said, “Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens (Matthew 11:28 TLB).”   

          Do you want to be healed?  Jesus asked this to the paralytic.  (John 5:6)

          Well, let’s begin our Lenten journey.  Why not?



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