for Ash Wednesday: the already and the not yet

Lent, as usual, snuck up on me. And it’s funny that it did, because I’ve been rather calendar-aware so far this year.

Lent itself looks different for so many people, and it’s looked different every season for me too. I’ve had the giving-up-chocolate Lents, the daily-Bible-reading Lents, the completely unrecognized and unaware Lents.

So today is Ash Wednesday. And I have no grandiose plans for how to acknowledge this season. Unlike me, really, because I love me a good grandiose plan. But I keep coming back to this medley of mourning and celebrating, of crying and laughing, of pain and joy.

Several pastors have used the phrase “the already and the not yet” to describe the weird place in which we live. And so no matter how you acknowledge it, Lent is a sobering reminder that where we are now is not where we are meant to be.

Part of the beauty of Lent is in the looking backward. We praise Him for that which is the already. In seeing our savior and in treasuring what He has done for us. Christ has already come, He’s already redeemed and saved us. His grace is new each day, gifted to us each day. It’s a beautiful place to be.

And still we’re living in the not yet, and that’s part of the beauty of Lent too: looking forward and hoping for that day. Christ has yet to deliver the world, has yet to banish sin forever and for good. It’s in this place that so much of life’s sorrow happens. It’s in this place that illness, sadness, guilt, failure, grief, anxiety, fear and death is oh-so present. It’s a beautiful but painful place.

Such a difficult but real juxtaposition. 

That’s Lent. After the birth and before the resurrection. The already and the not yet. Simultaneous celebration of what has come and yearning for what will be.

Are you acknowledging Lent? If so, how?

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2 thoughts on “for Ash Wednesday: the already and the not yet

  1. Sarah-

    I went to my first ever Lent service with Liz last night to St. Tom’s. I have never observed Lent being a non-denominational Christian. It was just never practiced in the church I grew up in. However, as you might know, I have been reading the Bible chronologically for the past 15 months and just finished ready the gospels. I knew I had to partake in Lent this season.

    Many people seem to give up something….chocolate, fast food, coke, but for me, I don’t see how that prepares your heart and mind for Easter. I am going to start at 40 day prayer journal to see how the Lord works in my life and the life of others over that 40 days period.

    I am excited to see the changes that do or do not take place during this time frame.

    • Jen, that’s fantastic! Love those resolutions for Lent. I too am excited to see what you learn and how you grow in the next 40 days! Keep me posted, okay?

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