|Angel Figueroa, speaking at a Sunday night de-brief. Angel wrote this reflection at the start of Lent, 2014. Angel is a Law student at DePaul, and an active member of South Loop Campus Ministry|
I never really got Lent growing up, even if I went through the motions. You
know, the getting of ashes, the giving up something, usually sugar related,
and ate fish instead of meat on Fridays. I didn’t know why, except that I
was supposed to be sad and sorry for my sins. Kind of what Ash
Wednesday is about, especially in the Roman church.
And maybe there is something to that when you look at the meaning of the
word repent. It tends to have a bad rep now a days. But the original greek
meant something like “move beyond our present mind-set.” It was about
transformation, and journey, a spiritual one. But recently, it occurred to me
what Lent was truly about. It was about Baptism. I’ll say more about that in
But even more so, it was about Easter. I know, I know, it’s the season
before Easter, so that’s more or less a given. But there’s more to it. The
word Lent is simply an early English word for spring, with the root
meaning of long, as in the days getting longer. Makes sense as we are
prepared to celebrate the rising of the Morning Star. But I thought about it
and I realized something else.
When I think about Spring, I think about life abundant. Flowers, and birds,
beautiful sun, but without the scorching heat of the heart of summer. But
the amazing thing about life is this. It needs to come from death. And that
is what Lent is truly about. It is about dying to ourselves. It is about dying
to our need for having the latest and greatest stuff. It is about dying to our
need to be rugged individuals. It is about dying to ourselves and moving
beyond our current mind set and setting it on Jesus.
As Lutherans, we are thought that we should daily drown the Old Adam
and be born anew in Christ. We do this through daily repentance ,and yes,
contrition. It is something that we should take care to always practice, but
especially in this season as we prepare to celebrate the defeat of death
through death, and through new life. The funny thing about Ash
Wednesday to me has always been that we read a passage about not
praying in public and taking care of your appearance when you fast, then
smear ashes all over our head.
But that took a new significance to me, just this Wednesday, though I’m
not quite sure why. It represented death. Both the fact that we all are
doomed to die, but something deeper.
It’s death to yourself and identification by the cross you wear on your
forehead. I am no longer Angel, or Joe, or Kacie, or Anne. I am a servant of
In many churches, after you are baptized, you are marked on the forehead
with the sign of the cross. The words are usually something like “You have
been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as one of Christ’s own forever.”
And that my friends is what lent and Ash Wednesday is truly about. It is
about dying to ourselves and turning our mindsets, our world views,
towards each other and God. It’s not easy, I won’t lie to you, but nothing
great in life is. And this we do, because Christ loves us, and we are his until
the end of ages. Amen.