Ash Wednesday Reading: Matthew 1:1-2:12
I remember it well: it was late August and exceedingly hot. I was seven months pregnant with our first child, so my internal temperature was already running high. Because we had no air conditioning, I needed something cool and loose to put on so I didn’t overheat. It had been a long day at work and I just wanted to relax a little before getting to supper, so after putting together a creative ensemble that would keep me both comfortable and cool, I plopped myself down on the sofa, beside the large open window that over-looked the backyard, with a book in hand. I was quickly engrossed in the story and lost all track of time along with any awareness of what I was wearing.
The next thing I knew, my in-laws were at the window. They had popped by to see the new deck we had built. Excited to show them around, I jumped off the couch and ran out the back door, and only then did it dawn on me, probably due to the shocked expressions on their faces, that perhaps I wasn’t quite as ready for their arrival as I would have hoped. You see, my attire, which I thought was ingenious when no one was around but me, consisted of a sports bra and my husband’s boxer briefs. Needless to say, I was mortified. Had I known they were coming I would have been ready. Presentable. Prepared. Instead, I was left embarrassed, flustered and exposed. And sadly, I think this is how many of us go about our daily Christian life: unprepared.
The Bible is clear, Christ is coming; the day of the LORD is near. We know this, and yet we still find ourselves unaware; unprepared even. Bethlehem had no room for Jesus at His birth, and often, in the same way, we fail to make room for Him in our hearts. Yet this is the call of Lent, the call of God to us, His children, “return to me with all your heart.” Seek Me, know Me, repent and find life.
When we see God, truly see Him, we can’t help but see our sin as well. And yet, that’s the beauty of the Easter story: our sin is covered, our shame erased. We now stand clothed in the righteousness of Christ. So, as we prepare our hearts for Christ over these next forty days, as we make room for Him in the crowded places of our lives, let’s draw near to Him and really see Him: who He is, His character, His plan, His holiness and His love. Let’s stand amazed in His presence and wonder at His ways. Let’s rejoice in His faithfulness and marvel at His grace. And at the end of the Lenten season, let’s proclaim, with new found joy and reverence, hope and awe, He is risen! He is risen indeed!