A reflection for Ash Wednesday

Lent begins with recognising where we are. 
Lent begins in ashes and repentance.
Lent begins in walking the pilgrim’s path.
Lent begins with a small step.
Lent begins in my heart and mind.

Reading: Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

‘Beware of practicing your piety in front of others in order to be seen by them.’ (Matt. 6:1) Difficult words on a day when many people will mark their foreheads with ashes as a sign of repentance. But they are a reality check. Why do we practice our faith, whether it be in attending church or helping people? Are we looking for approval from others? Are we claiming a moral high ground? Are we simply creatures of habit, holding firm to what we have always done (or perhaps what we think we have always done)?

We will only know the truth when we admit that we don’t deserve the love God shows us. We will only know the truth when we let go of what others think of us, and wonder what God sees in us. We will only know the truth when we are ready to step away from what we have always done and ask what would God have us do?

As we enter Lent, perhaps we might follow the suggestion that Jesus offers and take some time to pray by ourselves. Pray like no one (except God) is watching. Be honest, with yourself as with God. But don’t be afraid for God, who really listens, will be with you and renew you in the way that you need.

Purifying Mystery, your light exposes in us all that we hide.
Awaken me and my sisters and brothers in Christ to the struggle that lies ahead.
Lead us to purity of soul and body in these forty days.
Fortify us to take an honest look at ourselves 
and to name our secret sins and our ruts of disobedience.
Let abstinence from our addictions free us for prayer and the fire of love.
Perfect us by steady gaze toward your pure mercy and grace 
so that we may come to the Passion of Jesus 
and Easter in pure joy. 
In confidence we commend ourselves and all our passions 
and cares to your never failing mercy.

Based on a prayer from The United Methodist Church website

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