Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent: a journey many church communities symbolically walk with Jesus on his road to the cross. Throughout this trip, Jesus pulls the cosmic notions of sacrifice and solidarity closer and closer together. While one hand yanked at personal pride and called on privilege to humble itself, the other pulled the rejected, abandoned, and destitute people of the earth into Divine community. Our call during Lent, should we choose to accept it, is to embrace this path: to live simply and strive toward deep relationships with those the world casts aside.
C24/7: Father’s Arms Ministries tries to live at the intersection of sacrifice and solidarity. As a community we acknowledge that renewal only comes through admitting our personal shortcomings, as well as those of our society. We try to embrace the new life we are given in Christ, instead of relying on pride, status, or extravagance to comfort us. This requires an incredible amount of “letting go,” and undoubtedly, we often fail. On our good days, though, the one hand of sacrifice brings us into community with people who suffer from systematic inequality, personal temptation, and societal negligence.
Solidarity, suffering alongside others, is at the very core of Jesus’ being. He came so people of the world could find hope in the darkest of places (Luke 4:18-19); love where it shouldn’t exist. He specifically sought out those who were sidelined because of their ethnicity, gender, economic status, perceived religiousness, and health. If we take seriously the path to the cross, we should find ourselves communicating the inherent worthiness of all people to those we encounter. It shouldn’t end with words, though. Our presence in people’s lives matters. Our attention and our empathy matter. Our healing touch, time, and financial support all matter. To all people. Those who need us the most, and those who think they need us the least.
You can pray with us during Lent! Click here to download our Daily Lent Prayer
Today, as we celebrate Ash Wednesday, we are confronted with a not-so-subtle reality: “for dust you are and to dust you will return (Genesis 3:19b).” This painful and humbling reminder should help us in dropping our pride and seeking sacrifice. This simple sentence can remind us 21st century citizens that we don’t hold nearly the power we think we do. Once we learn to sacrifice, may we sprint toward solidarity with our fellow “dust mates,” with an eye on the ones who are all too aware of their dust status. Today and every day. Amen.