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Weekly reflections: Spring cleaning

Rev. Sherry Mahar, Special to the Daily Sentinel
Posted 2/18/23

It’s a time to do a thorough cleaning, top to bottom, inside and out. It usually involves identifying areas that need a quick spruce-up as well as the areas that need a deep cleaning.

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Weekly reflections: Spring cleaning


It’s a time to do a thorough cleaning, top to bottom, inside and out. It usually involves identifying areas that need a quick spruce-up as well as the areas that need a deep cleaning. Items are considered and determined if they should stay or go. If they stay, then they are repaired, utilized, organized, and cared for.

If they go, then they leave a space for something else, even if that something else is simply extra breathing room. Although the first day of spring is March 20, for Christians, the process of “spring cleaning” from a spiritual perspective begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22. 

Ash Wednesday begins the liturgical season of Lent, a word that is believed to have originated from the Old English word, “lencten,” meaning “spring season.” Lent is a season for spiritual spring cleaning, a time of reflection and deep examination of ourselves through God’s lens, determined through prayer and Scripture.

We ask ourselves questions such as, “Am I fully living into the Fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?” “Have I been a witness for God’s grace with others?” “Are there areas in my life where God is calling me to sacrifice for God’s kingdom work within me and through me?” “Have I been forgiving?” “How is God calling me to deeper transformation in my life, to become more and more like Jesus?” 

Ash Wednesday is when we receive an impartation of ashes derived from palms from Palm Sunday. Ashes were used throughout the Bible as a sign of mourning and penitence. As I place the ashes upon someone in the sign of the cross I say, “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return. Repent, and believe the Gospel.”

This is to remind us that we are sinners in need of God’s grace and our need for repentance — to turn around — toward God. It reminds us of our mortality, and of the grace that we receive through Jesus Christ. It’s a recognition that we are in need of a spiritual spring cleaning. 

As we go through the 40 days of Lent, we do so mindfully. Truly, as committed Christians, this type of reflection becomes part of our daily discipleship. But as all of us get busy, perhaps scattered, there are times when we recognize we haven’t kept up with it as well as we should. Just like with our houses, we look around at our spiritual life and realize it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Lent is designed as a reminder to do just that. We do it together. We are also offered Sundays as a respite of grace, as the 40 days do not include Sundays. Sundays are mini-Easters, where we celebrate God’s grace and rest in knowing that God loves us through the process.

If your church is offering an Ash Wednesday service or simply the impartation of ashes, I encourage you to take part in it. Come with an open heart, willing to hear what God may reveal to you, and what spiritual spring cleaning God wants to lead you through. If your church is not having anything for Ash Wednesday, there are many other ways that you can participate in Lent, with added prayer, reading Scripture, Lenten devotionals, etc. These are things that all believers are called to do, especially during Lent.

If you do not have a church, there are many wonderful churches in Rome and I encourage you to find one. You are also always welcome at the churches where I serve, First UMC at 400 N. George St., and Delta UMC at 6285 Hawkins Corners Road. Our Ash Wednesday service will be on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. at First UMC, and a drive-though impartation of ashes will also be available at Delta UMC, from 6 to 8 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.

You are invited, in whatever way you are able, and in whatever way God leads, to take part in a journey through Lent, with a spiritual spring cleaning together.


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