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Invitation to Transformation
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Invitation to Transformation by Karen Pourbabaee
“…I preached the need to repent and turn to God …” Acts 26:20 NAB
Ash Wednesday, observed in various denominations in western Christianity, marks the first day of Lent, a potentially transformative time. The name comes from the practice of blessing ashes from palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. In Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Episcopal, and more recently Methodist and Presbyterian churches, ashes are distributed to parishioners during church services by applying them to the forehead in the form of a cross. As the ashes are placed, “Repent and believe in the gospel,” is proclaimed. The ashes become a sign of one’s repentance and faith.
Thus begins what could be likened to a forty day communal retreat for those observing Lent. Transformation then begins with the proper attitude of repentance on Ash Wednesday. Repent comes from two Greek words: metanioa, referring to a change of mind with regard to sin, sorrow that’s primarily intellectual , and metameleia, a change of soul with sorrow that leads to turning away from sin. Repentance involves both change of mind and heart initiated by the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit leading to consciousness of sin. A work of grace!
This work of grace is for every day and every season. However, every Lent is an invitation to join with the community of believers around the world in meaningful preparation for Easter…an invitation to transformation. A time to focus on areas where God is calling us to deeper conversion and repentance: leaving behind habitual sins, repairing relationships, breaking bad habits, strengthening virtues and disciplines…so we may follow Christ more faithfully. So we may rejoice as Easter dawns.
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