We do an important thing today—a brave thing, daunting enough that we need Jesus beside us while we do it. Today, the Church invites us to admit three deep truths about ourselves: we are dying, beloved, and incapable of saving ourselves. That confession can shake us to our cores. We don’t tell these kinds of hard truths to ourselves very often, and I think that’s why Ash Wednesday is so important—why the discipline of it and the truths we tell ourselves on this day deeply matter.
Wearing the ashes of last year’s Palm Sunday fronds on our foreheads is a stark reminder of how quickly life can change and how changeless God’s deep love is for each of us. Odds are that someone you know and love has died this year—maybe even several people. And by the time Ash Wednesday rolls around next year, you might not be here, either. I might not. Jesus might come back. We just don’t know. But what we do know is that today is a special day—a day of tallying up the count, and then throwing out the numbers.
Ash Wednesday, much like other festival days, reminds us of the already-and-not-yet nature of the kingdom of God. We are dying a little bit every day. And even in our dying, we are being lifted into something new, something whole and holy, the elevated substance of what we have already been made to be. Ash Wednesday reminds us that the whole world palm trees, people, prophets—is being brought into subjection under God’s Christ, renewed and restored and resplendent. This day takes us back to the first day, to the dust of our creation, to the breath of the Holy Spirit filling our nostrils and giving us life. It takes us to our last day, to breathing our last breath back into the Holy Spirit and saying “Thank you” for letting us be here.
If you can, try to plan and take today kind of easy. It’s a big day. You’ll need some extra space in your head and heart. If you’ve been procrastinating choosing a Lenten discipline, you can join in on our Lent Tracks by visiting www.ForwardMovement.org or playing along with www.LentMadness.org. However you choose to observe this holy season, know our prayers are with you. Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem; may we be brave enough to follow.
With prayers for a holy Lent,
Associate Editor, Forward Movement
Ashes speak to me
of what matters and
what does not.
Remind me of the heart
of my heart and that I
and the ones I love
are more that what
will dribble into the
May I be thankful
that I await not just
but the Phoenix.
Woodcut by Jason Sierra
Today’s Flash Sale: Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book
Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book is a book of prayer and practice—with disciplines, habits, and patterns for building a Christian spiritual life. It will help you to develop strong habits of prayer, to prepare for and participate in public liturgy thoughtfully, and to nurture a mind and soul ready to work and give and pray for the spread of the kingdom. Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book features “Holy Habits of Prayer,” devotions to accompany Holy Eucharist, Stations of the Cross, and Stations of the Resurrection, and a wide range of litanies, collects, and prayers for all occasions. The newly revised edition includes the treasured liturgies and prayers of the original while offering some important updates in language and content. Revised and edited by well-regarded scholars David Cobb and Derek Olsen, the Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book is a wonderful gift as well as a handsome addition to your own prayer book collection. Comes leather-bound (black) with two ribbons in a gift box.
*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time
How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?
Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.
We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.