Ash Wednesday: Rooted in a Personal Relationship with God

Ash Wednesday: Rooted in a Personal Relationship with God

Mark 6:1-6, 16-21

In the last two weeks, I have moved into the position of spiritual growth and formation specialist at United Methodist Women. In the process of discerning, applying and interviewing for this role, I have asked myself, “What is ‘spiritual growth’? Is there a measurement of one’s spirit? Of its growth?” At this time of year I now ask, “How does spiritual growth help us to prepare for the season of Lent?”

In the text from Matthew 6, Jesus describes the ways to practice our piety in almsgiving, prayer and fasting. He punctuates each section with the need to do these things in ways that are not seen by others, so that God, “who sees in secret will reward you” (6:4, 6:6, 6:18).  He repeats the word “secret” throughout the text, emphasizing how important it is to practice our faith unseen.  

Expressing Faith in Different Ways

I am intrigued by this repetition, as I have grown up in a diverse range of United Methodist Churches, and have seen that people authentically worship God and express their faith in different ways: sometimes it is quiet and still, and sometimes it is a loud, joyful noise. Therefore, why does Jesus tell us these things should be done in secret, in order to be distinct from the “hypocrites”? 

In reflecting on this text, I understand that there is a reminder to embrace first our personal relationship with God—the intimate relationship between myself and God that roots my communal worship and practices of faith in action. In the busyness of the day-to-day, I understand this to be an invitation to remember and embrace spiritual growth in the ways that most authentically move my spirit and heart. 

As we enter into the Lenten season, we are invited to take a minute to find our roots in the ways that the ministry of Jesus Christ opens our hearts. From this place, we may bear witness to the miracle of the resurrection of Christ and grow in understanding of our faith. 

Holy God, as we enter into a season of Lent, may we grow closer to you and deeper in our understanding of the miracle of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Nora Asedillo Cunningham is United Methodist Women's spiritual growth and formation specialist.

Posted or updated: 2/21/2020 12:00:00 AM

Give Thanks. Give Now.

Lent and Easter 2020

February 26: Ash Wednesday
March 1: First Sunday in Lent
March 8: Second Sunday in Lent
March 15: Third Sunday in Lent
March 22: Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 29: Fifth Sunday in Lent
April 5: Palm Sunday
April 9: Maundy Thursday
April 10: Good Friday
April 12: Easter Sunday