“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. (Gen. 3:19[b])
Ash Wednesday is a day that is not often practiced within our non-denominational movement, but there is much that we can learn for our betterment when we participate in a time of the church year like lent and Ash Wednesday. The practice of Ash Wednesday points us forwards in time to what is known as Holy Saturday, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the time Jesus spent in the grave. Ash Wednesday and the greater season of lent that it supports are a time of reflection and repentance from sin in our lives, and is a time where we remind ourselves that we are merely mortal and cannot do what only God can do in our lives.
Holy Saturday teaches us what a great measure of love that Christ had for us that he himself would take up death for our sake, choosing to take into himself our shame, rejection, sin, brokenness, mortality, suffering, mourning, and our injustice to others and ourselves so that he can make it his own, turn our broken story(s) into his own story and by doing so make us whole. Man of sorrows a true title indeed for the one who came to stand in solidarity with us in our brokenness and sin so that we might be redeemed and drawn into himself by joining us in death so that death would be defeated and made into a way for life.
Christ once and for all joined us in our rejection of God and became our mediator that now sits at the right hand of the father as our advocate and friend who stands with us in our brokenness. No longer does the Father see our sin within us, but Christ the son. Christ is the first born of the dead who’s love could not be avoided even by those in hell. Because of this we now have hope that we will be raised with him. That we are not to be dust forever, but made new by the loving God who stands with us. What a friend we have in Jesus, who bears our suffering and rejection. Ash Wednesday meets us in the middle of our mortal suffering and rejection with a savior who has done the same. And so, we are then called to repent and believe the gospel, believe that Christ is risen and to center our theology and faith upon the cross that our savior went to so that death can no longer bind us. Our hope is now focused towards the new creation, where we and all things will be made new, more into the likeness of our suffering Lord. Therefore, repent and believe the gospel.
A prayer of confession for the season of lent:
“Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires
known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may
perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
An Additional Prayer of confession that is more personally directed:
“Heavenly Father, I confess that I have sinned against you. I have delighted my soul in other things more than I have in you. Why, then, is it any surprise to me that you feel far off from me? I have driven you away! In my arrogance, I have enjoyed the comforts of this world while I care too little that the poor cannot feed or care for themselves. Because of my greed, I boast of all that I have and all that I desire. In one moment, I believe that I’m invincible, able to withstand any problem or struggle. In the next moment, I believe that the evil all around me is out to get me. My mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression; under my tongue are mischief and iniquity. O God, forgive me of my sin. Look on me with mercy, and give me grace to delight in you, rather than in my sin. Lift me out of this pit of sin, cleanse me of my unrighteousness, and fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I might walk in holiness and obey your commandments. Amen.”
Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins. His mercy endures for ever!
Scripture for the next few days:
Mark 8:31-38, Isaiah 53
Grace and peace be with you,