Ash Wednesday, A look at the mission of Jonah
With the last writing about “Our Walk away from Sin”, we looked at the beginning era that was established when sin was perpetrated with Adam and Eve. Now, we must view our own point of impact as the ashes are placed on our forehead and consider, as the citizens of Nineveh did, when Jonah convinced them of God’s mercy.
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me.” We all know the story of how Jonah did not want this mission and did everything possible to avoid going. Of course, to his disillusionment “Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” (Jon. 1: 2, 3: 4-5).
“When God saw by their actions how they turned away from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” (Jon. 3: 10).
So, Lent, starting with Ash Wednesday, becomes a period of putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes saying “I am sorry Lord” forgive me! When we leave church wearing the sign of repentance, it is our response that states we too are ready to seek God’s mercy; our sins have become a weight that cripples us. Once the ashes are received the task of remembering why becomes a synonym for giving alms, praying, and fasting. (Mt. 6: 1-8, 16-18).
The most impressive factor we find during Lent is the ultimate forgiveness that God wishes to share with his people. We must hear his voice to repent, help those in need, pray for grace, and fast. Fasting comes in many ways and how you adhere to that is your challenge.
In the days ahead our Lenten reflections will draw from some of the minor prophets regarding God’s sending them to warn Israel and then promising a Savior. The very synopsis of our journey through Lent.
Ralph B. Hathaway, Lent 2022