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Reflections from Bishop Gohl

“Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” –Joel 2.13

Ash Wednesday and the forty days of Lent often bring with them a lot of bad theological baggage, rather than a true invitation to wholeness and renewal. Contrary to the message many of us received as children, Lent is not about making us good after a year of bad behavior, not about adding or taking away some spiritual or dietary discipline in order to make us healthier or “more worthy” of salvation.

Lent is a journey: our community’s journey with God, our heart’s journey towards the very heart of God. The disciplines of this season are spiritual tools helping us to remove the distractions which draw us from the love of God. In a world where sin is passé, we are called to self-examination and repentance.

In a world where buying is synonymous with godliness, where consumption is an act of patriotism, we are called to fasting and self-denial. In a world of soundbites and social media, where image is everything, we are called to look inward, to spend time in reflection and silence. In a world where we no longer die - we “pass,” and have “life celebrations,”

Ash Wednesday and Lent reminds us that there is no denial of death, “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” And we are reminded, again and again, of our baptismal inheritance: we are Christ’s own forever. The first line of the prayer of the day echoes that thought. “Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made.” Nothing. God’s love is for the whole creation—the beautiful parts, of course, but even its ugliness, striving for meaning.

Through the disciplines of this season we are offered a window to see that God is already here, within us and among us. In Lent we lose ourselves to find our true selves.