Today is Ash Wednesday. If you’re not from a liturgical background, it’s the day after Mardi Gras ends. Within the Judeo-Christian faiths there is a long tradition of marking time with certain rhythms. For example, the Sabbath, work six days, rest one. It’s supposed to remind us that we are human beings whose worth comes from being created and loved by God. It is to help us rest, heal from the stress of the week, reconnect with God, and prepare us for the week ahead. It reminds us that our worth does not come from what we produce, that we are human beings, not human doings. So, there are all these rhythms: marking the day by prayers (morning, afternoon, evening), marking the week (sabbath), and marking the year (the feasts found in the first books of the bible, or the liturgical year for many denominations).
The liturgical calendar takes through a full experience of life as well as the ministry of Jesus. Often we are tempted to sit with just the parts of the bible we like most or acknowledge one dimension of the Christian experience. If we are celebratory, we tend to like Christmas and Easter, but neglect experiencing what takes place during Advent or Lent. Lent is introspective, we wrestle with the things that lie within us that we ignore most of the time, the places where we have room to grow. During this time we remember Moses’ 40 days on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah (first five books of the Bible) and we remember Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and his temptation that takes place there. Many give up something for lent. Some will fast not eating anything during this time. Others will fast smaller things such as soft drinks or sweets, televisions or cell phones, anything that seems to have too much power over you. It is an attempt to in some small way identify with Christ, to seek to connect with God in a deeper way, and to work on yourself.
I have recently finished a book by Peter Rollins called the Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales. It is a collection of 33 parables written by Rollins. Each parable is followed by a commentary. The stories are broken into three sets of eleven. The first set is called Beyond Belief, the second is called G-O-D-I-S-N-O-W-H-E-R-E, and the third is called Transfigurations. I have thoroughly enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it. My intent is to post one parable a week during lent, I may at times post commentary either by Rollins or my own reflections. Most of the time I will probably let the story speak for itself that they might read you as much as you read them. May they push and stretch, challenge, provoke, and inspire you as much as they have me.

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