I’ve been very honored to be a part of the initiatives coming out of the new Biola University Center for Christianity, Culture & the Arts, which launched at Biola back in September. In December the CCCA produced a wonderful online devotional series for Advent called “The Advent Project,” which offered daily liturgical reflections on art, music and Scripture. Last week we launched “The Lent Project,” which will mirror the style of the Advent Project.
I wrote the first devotional for Ash Wednesday, which you can read here. Here’s an excerpt:
For me Ash Wednesday symbolizes, rather neatly, what it means to be a Christian. It’s not about being beautiful or powerful or triumphant; it’s about being scarred and humble and sacrificial. This is not to say it’s about defeat, despair or self-flagellation. On the contrary, to “give up” or “sacrifice” in the name of Christ is (or should be) the height of our joy. Suffering is not something to shrink from. Giving ourselves away to others is our calling. Dying to ourselves is our glorious inheritance.
“Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it,” said Jesus (Matt. 16:25). “To live is Christ and to die is gain,” wrote Paul (Phil. 1:21).
We should strive to be like Christ, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame…” (Hebrews 12:2).
For the joy set before him… That should be why we endure suffering and embrace self-denial. It’s paradoxical and mysterious and counterintuitive — certainly. But when I feel the cold ashes spread across my forehead on Ash Wednesday, it makes some sort of wonderful sense.
Check out the full Lent Project at http://ccca.biola.edu/lent/ and click on the RSS button at the bottom if you’d like to subscribe to the daily devotionals.