Brothers and Sisters of Christ; as I was reading some material relating to the upcoming Lenten season, I was struck by the thoughts of Reverend Margaret Jones* regarding the meaning and purpose of Ash Wednesday. Her words had such an impact on me as I look forward to preparing for the Week of Passion and Easter morning that I thought they would be beneficial to all of us.
Ash Wednesday is a wake-up call. Ash Wednesday hits us squarely between the eyes, forcing us to face mortality and sinfulness. We hear Scripture readings that are urgent and vivid. Some of us have black ashes rubbed into our foreheads in the form of a cross. We recite a Litany of Penitence that takes our breath away, or should. It is a tough day, but take heart! This is one religious day that won’t fall into the clutches of retailers. There aren’t any Hallmark cards celebrating sin and death; no shop windows decked out with sackcloth and ashes.
On Ash Wednesday we come to church to kneel, to pray, and to ask God’s forgiveness, surrounded by other sinners. Human sin is universal; we all do it, not only Christians. But our church tradition sets aside Ash Wednesday as a particular day to address sin and death. We do this mindful that “God hates nothing God has made and forgives the sins of all who are penitent.” We are ALL sinners, no better and no worse than our brothers and sisters. This is not a day to compete (“my sins are worse than yours are”) but to confess . . .
Ash Wednesday is the gateway to Lent. We have forty precious days to open ourselves most particularly to God, to examine ourselves in the presence of one who created us, knows us, and loves us. We have forty days to face ourselves and learn to not be afraid of our sinfulness. We are dust, and to dust we shall return, BUT with God’s grace we can learn to live this life more fully, embracing our sinfulness, allowing God to transform us.
I hope that each of us can reflect on the meaning of this time as we prepare for Easter knowing full well that God is good and He will provide according to his providence. Gayle and I pray that God continues to make his presence known to all his creation. Have a thoughtful and reflective month in the Lord! God bless all.
* From “Ash Wednesday—A Wake-up Call” by Rev. Margaret Jones
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His Peace and Blessings to all of you, as you continue to believe, have hope, and do the work of the Lord.
God bless you, your families, and our church, always!
As Always, In His Grip …Shalom Aleichem (Peace Be Unto You) …
Until the Nets Are Full,
Your Most Obedient and Humble Servant,