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A Lenten Journey of Release & Renewal (Day One/Ash Wednesday)



SOAP Daily Reflection


SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. The concept is akin to washing our faces daily with soap; just as we cleanse away physical impurities, we renew our souls with the Word of God, washing away sin and guilt.


Scripture Reading: Begin by reading the scripture and identify a word or phrase that resonates with you today. Reflect on this word or phrase.


Observation: Engage your imagination to fully immerse yourself in the passage. Consider what surprises you, any new insights gained, and questions that arise.


Application: Considering your reflections and observations, discern what God may be calling you to do today. How does the scripture apply to your current life circumstances?


Prayer: Communicate your requests to God, both for yourself and for others. Offer prayers for guidance and strength.


May this simple method aid you in your Lenten journey of Release and Renewal.


 


Day One / Ash Wednesday



Scripture: Mark 1:1-9

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:


“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’,


John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.


Observation:



On this Ash Wednesday, we are invited to reflect on two very different images: one is ashes, and the other is water. The image of dry ashes scattering in our hands seems very opposite to the image of flowing water in the Jordan River. In our Christian tradition, ashes are supposed to remind us of our mortality; “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Meanwhile, the water in baptism symbolizes our rebirth; we are born again through the mercy of Christ. What are we to do with these two contrasting images?



Thinking of life and death cannot be separated. To think of life is to think of death; to think of death is to think of life. Pondering how to die with dignity always leads us to think about how to live here and now. We will die as we live. Japanese writer Murakami Haruki said, “Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it. By living our lives, we nurture death.” This suggests that life and death are not two separate entities we encounter sequentially; we nurture our death by living fully today.


Therefore, reflecting on ashes - our mortality - should lead us to reflect on how to be faithful to the baptismal covenant to follow Jesus today. Thinking of the flowing water and the lonely voice in the wilderness should invite us to name the sins and guilt within us that need to be washed away so that we may live in the abundance of God’s love.


Application:

  • What are the things that you’re holding on to even though you already know they are like ashes?

  • How can you make room for the Holy One to come and renew your soul?


Prayer / Reflection:





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