One of the most remarkable sentences in all of Scripture comes from the thief who was hanging next to Jesus on the cross. Jesus was just hours from death, and, by all appearances, had failed in his Messianic role.
Just days before, Jesus had entered Jerusalem, hailed as a king with shouts of “Hosanna!” But then, Jesus was betrayed, tried, beaten, and nailed to the cross. In the eyes of the disciples and all of his followers, it was all over.
Sandy Grubb, member of the Columbia-Willamette chapter of Women of Vision, as well as a World Vision U.S. board member, shares this inspiring devotional as Christians around the world prepare to observe Good Friday and Christ's subsequent resurrection on Easter morning.
Today's post is a Lenten devotional by Anna Goodworth from the Women of Vision chapter in Hartford, Connecticut. Women of Vision is a volunteer ministry of World Vision that equips women to serve impoverished and oppressed women and children worldwide.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, when Christians focus on Jesus’ sacrifice through prayer, fasting, and giving. World Vision's Katie Swift reflects on taking a "Life Audit" -- part of our Live Life campaign for youth and college students around the world.
"Sacrifice" is a funny little word. It conjures up images of pain, hurt, and unfinished to-do lists. This word especially takes on a warped meaning when combined with the word “Lent.”
Growing up, Lent was always a little bit of a joke. We teased each other for the excuses we all made for giving into the things we had given up.
My Grandma always had the best excuse. She said that Lent is technically only 40 days if you exclude Sundays, and that on Sunday, she could “break the rules.” I’m almost positive she somehow found biblical support for this, and I wasn’t going to argue if it meant my Sabbath was filled with Thin Mints.
That’s how sacrifice is most of the time, though, isn’t it?
Editor's note: Celebrating Easter, including its preparation, is distinct to religious tradition and cultural custom. Candelaria, a World Vision community volunteer, and her daughters Martha and Mara describe how their family prepares and celebrates Easter according to Catholic tradition in Colombia. The following post was written by World Vision field communicators Ivon Curevo and Astrid Zacipa.
There is a Wednesday ever year in which Candelaria, 29, and her husband Carlos, 46, go with their daughters Marta, 11, and Mara, 7, to the nearest Catholic Church to receive from the priest the imposition of the "Cross of Ashes”.
"You are dust and to dust you shall become," says the priest, while drawing the symbol of the cross on their foreheads with ashes. This day is known as "Ash Wednesday” and marks the beginning of Lent -- forty days of preparation for Easter.
"Lent is the time to get together as a family, to feel at peace with God. It is a time to reflect on the positive as well as the negative aspects of our lives and to repent ourselves," says Candelaria.
Especially at Easter, Candelaria and her family abstain from eating meat, except fish, like many of those of Catholic faith. "From what my mom taught me, we do not eat meat [so as] not to desecrate the suffering of Jesus on the cross," says Candelaria.
Because it is Easter, Carlos saves money from his bricklaying work so Candelaria can prepare a special meal for the family on Thursday or Friday. "Mom prepares fish from the river, beet salad, rice with beans and fresh fruit for dessert," says Mara.
As learned from her grandmother and her mother, Candelaria has taught her daughters the Catholic traditions of the Holy Week. The first Sunday of Easter recalls the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem at the beginning of Passover and was acclaimed by the people. That day the custom is to "take a bunch of palm to the church for the priest to bless it," says Mara.
As today, Ash Wednesday, marks the start of the season of Lent, may this Franciscan blessing encourage and prepare you for a meaningful and blessed Lent Experience.
May God bless you with discomfort. Discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships...