Wednesday Word: Glory to Glory
Grant to us that we . . . may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory . . . – from the Collect for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Lent begins next week with the Ash Wednesday services. Weather permitting, we will have four services in the lower parking lot held at 10, Noon, 2, and 4. If you are able to come, please remember to park in every other parking space. Each vehicle unit can gather outside their car in an adjoining empty space for the service. Masks are required and I will impose ashes on anyone who wants, with Dcn. Sue reciting the words of imposition from a safe distance (our health experts are telling us that it's not the imposition of ashes that is the problem but the proximity of people speaking; hence the reason Dcn. Sue will be standing at a safe distance).
Later that evening at 7 we will broadcast the full Ash Wednesday liturgy on our Facebook page. For those who are unable to attend the earlier services, you can participate by imposing ashes on members of your household at the appropriate time. There is nothing particularly special about the ashes, but they traditionally come from burning last year's palms. If you have old palms at home, you can place them in a safe container to burn and use the ashes at the service.
Lent gives us the time for self-examination, prayer, fasting, self-denial, and the studying of Scripture. The goal of this season isn't to be beaten down or to be made miserable. The goal of the season is to help us make needed corrective changes to our lives so that we may be changed into Christ's likeness. Having trouble finding time to read Scripture? Watch less TV. Having trouble finding time to pray? Put prayer time on your calendar. There are plenty of ways to work at strengthening our resolve and slowly change so we may reflect Christ's glory.
Lent also reminds us of our mortality. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” At no other time in our lives have we been more reminded of that than during this season of COVID. The ashen cross on our forehead reminds of of our bodily mortality, but it also reminds us of the oil cross and seal of the Holy Spirit placed on our foreheads at baptism marking us as Christ's own for ever.
From our baptism to our death we are being changed into Christ's likeness. Each Lent we take up disciplines designed to strengthen us and help us make those changes. Each Lent we are reminded of our mortality. In our mortality,though, we are reminded that life is changed, not ended.
This past year we have had to carry many burdens. As we move into Lent next week, may our disciplines reflect our desire to draw nearer to Christ, and may we be changed into his likeness from glory to glory.