Lenten Series: Experiencing God and Finding Joy
March 2, 2022
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
by Nora Asedillo Cunningham
Ash Wednesday invites Christians into the season of Lent. It is an opportunity to consider our own mortality, reflect on and confess our sins before God, as we prepare for the story of Jesus’ persecution, death, and the miracle of resurrection. Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 invokes the importance of this task. In verses 1-2, we hear the alarm being raised, for a great and powerful army comes against Jerusalem for their sins. And in verses 12-17, the language turns, and we hear of God’s grace and mercy, “slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” We are reminded of the miracle of redemption and the possibilities for the future.
I have always loved the use of natural images in the Bible. Sometimes frightening, sometimes beautiful, and sometimes just teaching us what it means to be part of the cycle of life, the connection that the authors of the Bible make to mountains, thunder, oceans, and plants always serves as a reminder of the messages and truth available to us as a part of God’s wonderful creation.
There is joy and understanding to be found in recognizing our connection and oneness with all of God’s creation – how the things that we do and don’t do impact the communities of living creatures and beings around us. There is joy in knowing that part of our relationship with God is to listen to the whole. We are reminded on Ash Wednesday that from dust we come, and to dust we return. As we enter into Lent – let us repent – let us turn and return to the way of God by taking action towards protecting and caring for God’s creation.
THANKSGIVING OVER THE ASHES
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth.
Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence,
so that we may remember that only by your gracious gift
are we given everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
“A Service of Worship for Ash Wednesday”
Nora Asedillo Cunningham
Spiritual Growth & Formation Specialist
United Women in Faith National Office