Greetings, Welties family,
Our Lenten journey began on Ash Wednesday with the marking of the sign of the cross on our foreheads. ‘You are dust, and to dust you will return.’ This symbolic act focuses our attention on Jesus Christ our Messiah, on His intense suffering and Sacrifice of Himself for us and His victorious Resurrection and victory over sin and evil, darkness and death. He chose obedience to the only way that could bring us, as sinners, into a right standing with our Holy God.
There is no greater love than this. Our Ash Wednesday service was a time of introspection and through the Scriptures, close and necessarily uncomfortable examination of the true meaning and implications of Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 6 on three vital components of our earthly walk. We reflected on the following:
a) Giving: We need to give away or give up those things that have physically or mentally become idols in our lives and let our giving exceed our taking. Loving our neighbour involves a willing sacrifice of our time, our resources and our self.
b) Prayer: Rev Moagi described prayer as ‘the life-blood of a sincere relationship with God.’ God doesn’t want fancy words or Oscar-winning performances when we pray. He wants our hearts, our love, our authentic self, our simplicity and our complete, trusting devotion. He fully knows us.
c) Fasting: The removal, or ‘fasting from’ the things in our lives that hinder our relationship with God is a discipline that keeps us looking to Him and drawing on His strength, as we seek to replace those distractions, be they physical, behavioural, habitual or attitudinal, with that which is pleasing to God and within His will. It is not something to be taken lightly or frivolously and it’s all about Him, not ourselves. Honest motives and a pure heart are vital – abstinence is not a bargaining or manipulation tool to get God to give us our own way.
It’s about drawing closer to God and building a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him, by faithfully setting aside committed and exclusive time for Him, remembering that fasting and prayer are inseparable. I would recommend the daily reading, during Lent, of Psalm 51. We are called to face up to, acknowledge, repent of and intentionally address those parts of our lives that distract us and prevent us from fully connecting with and submitting to God.
The sobering reality is that we actually need to be doing this throughout the year, not only during Lent and Easter or other special seasons in our Christian calendar. We call on the empowering of Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us in this quest to live as true disciples of Jesus Christ.