Ash Wednesday: Holy Habits

by Lauren Wallis

For dust you are and to dust you will return. | Genesis 3:19

Today is Ash Wednesday. It marks the first day of Lent: a 40-day season dedicated to deeply reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus. It has been observed by Christians all over the world for centuries. As you walk around today you may notice how some people have a dark smudge on their foreheads. Many faith communities participate in Ash Wednesday through a time of communal worship, confession, prayer and receiving ash on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. The ash is traditionally made from the burning of palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday, and is meant to be an outward symbol of our inward reflection and repentance as we prepare our hearts for Easter.

The Book of Common Prayer describes Lent as, “a time of considering Christ’s sufferings and rethinking how we are called to take up our own crosses…it is a good season to reflect on how we live and to let some things go, or maybe even develop some new holy habits.” 

These holy habits can look like fasting or giving up something like sugar, alcohol or tv — which can definitely help disrupt our routines and refocus our relationship with Jesus. I also love the idea that developing holy habits can mean integrating something new into our lives as a way to recenter and connect with God in a fresh way. This may look like joining a community group, volunteering, exercising or carving out more time to pray. Whether we choose to give something up or add something in (or both), it is going to look different for every person. This is one of the most simple, yet powerful aspects of Lent. It’s a communal reminder to get personal with God and challenge ourselves, as the creatures of comfort we are, to lean into surrender and reflection. It can be a time of great clarity and growth in our spiritual life if we allow it to be. 

As a church, collectively and individually, one of the ways we are reflecting in this season is by asking the question, “God, what does it look like for ME to be HERE FOR GOOD?” What would it look like for us to practice being “here,” being present in our relationships, our workplace, our families, our neighborhoods? What does it mean to be a people “for good”? Do we leave others better and more hopeful than we found them? What does it look like to truly reflect the radical, sacrificial and unconditional love that Jesus showed for us through his death and resurrection?

Our prayer during Lent and beyond is to be Here for Good, to make on earth is it is in heaven. As we ask God to prepare our hearts and show us what this looks like — we can’t think of a better way than to come together in prayer. Next month we are joining with churches all over San Diego for SEVEN, a one-week gathering to pray and fast for our city. We will be hosting one of the prayer nights at Makers Church on March 24th. Please join us and invite a friend, it’s going to be a powerful time of prayer and worship together!

We hope this Lenten season is filled with reflection, redemption and renewal between you and God. As staff and leaders we want to walk with you and support your spiritual journey with any tools that might be helpful, so here are a few resources I’ve found especially impactful during Lent. I hope they encourage you too:

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