Today is the first day of Lent.
Lent and Ash Wednesday are really no different than Christmas or Easter. They are traditions within the historic church calendar that can help us organize our lives around a more holistic participation in God’s story.
In many ways these seasons are like the feasts and monuments God gave to ancient Israel to help them remember who God is and to participate in the story He was telling through them.
The season of Lent helps us to experience the story of the gospel. It helps us to remember, to reflect and in some ways to participate in the story of Christ heading towards Jerusalem headed towards the cross and the holy anticipation of His resurrection. Through fasting, prayer and repentance our we can begin to imagine a new world breaking into our midst.
On Ash Wednesday we put ashes on our heads made from palm branches from the previous Easter season as a sign of our mortality (“from dust we came and to dust we shall return”). It is a day to reflect on the fleeting nature of life and to consider what is really driving our lives. Almost like laying on your death bed and considering your life.
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
The book of Ecclesiastes drives us to ask the most difficult questions of life. The kind of questions we often try to ignore or drown out in the frenzy of our day-to-day lives, but the questions we will certainly be asking on our death bed.
Gain means leftover; profit. At the end of the day, after all your debts have been paid, what
is left? What of permanent value to have leftover at the end of your life?
You are really busy but when it is all said and done what does it all mean?
What is your life for?
What is your life accomplishing?
What difference are you making?
These are the questions we should be asking ourselves. These are the questions that we should be bringing to the rest of Scripture so that we can see the beauty and the power of the Christian message.
Unless there is something beyond life 'under the sun' it is all meaningless. The Hebrew word is Havel which means vapor or mist or dust.
Wisdom, learning, education - it's all havel.
Power, money, happiness - havel.
Every moment of your life is a gift.
Or every moment is meaningless.
There is no middle ground.