“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

“Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here’s why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, the most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe.” Joel 2:13 [The Message]

love the liturgical season of Lent. Call me a church nerd if you will, but seriously. Lent is up there. One of my favs. And, today, Ash Wednesday, is most certainly one of my favorite days of the liturgical journey.

Maybe it’s the extra sensory elements in worship. Maybe it’s that we finally are in the season where we break out all of my favorite old school hymns (I really do love Lenten hymns!). But I really do think that it’s something more. There’s something more to this season that brings me chills in Ash Wednesday worship. Something deeper.

Today marks the beginning of a journey. A journey that has always seemed to have some significance to me. A journey of spiritual growth. A journey of discipleship. A journey deeper into religion.

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot lately on the increasing segment of Americans who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious”–those who recognize that perhaps there is something “bigger” out there, but who don’t identify with a denomination or specific religious body.

A few years ago, I read an article in Relevant Magazine on reclaiming “religion” in a world that has been turned off by our “churchy” lingo. Here’s some of what the author had to say:

The word “religion” comes from the Lantin religare, which means “to tie fast” or “to bind to.” Bad religion is about binding yourself to actions that you think earn you favor from God. Good religion is about binding or tying yourself to practices because you have experienced God’s favor. It is a way for us to love God back, as well as a way for us to move deeper into His grace.

 I don’t know about you, but I can still hold onto “religion” that moves me deeper into the grace of God. I can still hold onto a “religion” that moves beyond attempts to earn God’s favor in an effort to just bask in the favor He freely gives.

Discipline is hard for me. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been really struggling this year to come up with a Lenten discipline that feels right. I’ve definitely been intrigued by this whole #RethinkChurch Photo-a-Day project. But part of me wonders if it’s really what God is calling me to. Maybe I’m over-thinking the whole thing, or trying too hard. For now, I’m just going to try to bend more towards God and less towards myself.

Maybe that’s what this whole thing is about anyways, right?

So, that, my friends, is just a little bit about why I love the season of Lent so much. It’s an opportunity to be really intentional about moving deeper into the grace of God. It’s not all about what you’re going to give up–it’s about what you are going to be about that will push you deeper into the richness of God’s grace and mercy.

So, what of it?

What’s your favorite part of Lent?

What’s your favorite liturgical season or day?

What pushes you deeper into the richness of God’s grace?

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