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Have you ever had your face painted? Did you get whiskers to make you look like a cat or a rainbow to make you look happy? Do you remember the feeling you had as a small child on Halloween? When you could wear a mask and pretend to be someone or something magical? Ash Wednesday is drawing near and it is a time of year when Christians are invited to add something special to their face—actually, their forehead—to help them remember who they really are and what it means to follow Christ. We smear ashes on our foreheads to mark the beginning of the season of Lent.
Lent is a time of repentance and remembrance.
During Lent, we recall that Jesus Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert before he went to Jerusalem to be tried, executed, and ultimately, to rise from the dead. No amount of temptation could deter Jesus from fulfilling his ultimate purpose. As humans, we must face the facts that not only are we imperfect, but also that sin is inevitable. Temptation is all around us. Perhaps we have not been our best selves. Perhaps we have not been the best to others. Lent calls us not only to acknowledge our sins, but to repent and reorient ourselves. But where can we turn for reorientation? Who in this world can help us remember that we are blessed and beautiful creatures? When will we learn that we were made for goodness and love?
The ashes remind us that we are dust and to dust we will return. But they also show us a path of promise, hope and life everlasting in Jesus Christ. Regardless of whether your tradition observes Ash Wednesday, all of us are called to remember that at some point or another, we all must take off our masks and face our true selves. My prayer is that we may all find ways to love our true selves and show kindness to those still seeking.
(Shayanna Little is the pastor at Crittenden Christian Church. She can be reached at 859-428-2210. Facebook page is www.facebook.com/CrittendenChristianChurch and website is www.critttendenchrisitian.com)