Regarding Ashes, Reconciliation, and Repentance of Sin…
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus. (Acts 3:19,20, ESV)
Today is Ash Wednesday. That day, for many in the Christian Church that marks the beginning of the season of Lent and starts our journey to the Cross of Calvary and then to Easter Sunday. Today you might see people everywhere who have that little (or big) smudge of ashes on their forehead or in the palm of their hand. At first glance they may appear dirty, but they have been part of a service where the ”Imposition of Ashes” was observed.
This reminds me of years ago, after getting my little smudge and having to go directly to the bank afterward. As I was making my transaction the bank teller whispered discreetly I had a spot of dirt on my forehead, and I explained to her what my smudge of ashes meant. Her response was “I am a Christian, but the church I go to does not believe in being sorry for our sins.“ After a long pause she must have realized how that sounded and we both broke out in laughter.
No matter what our practices are; smudge or no smudge, ashes, or no ashes we can all be reminded of our need of forgiveness and reconciliation with God, and how, at times, it is good that we reflect on and become penitent about our sins and the way they not only displease God but hurt us and others. To think and pray about our need of forgiveness, grace and mercy from God.
Knowing we are sinners and in need of God’s grace is a blessing and liberating. God does not want us to rehash our sins so that we become stuck, end up feeling shame or guilt, or run from him, but that we might have a healthy sense of our sinfulness, which then draws us closer to Jesus and humbled by what our he did for us when he died in our place, becoming the perfect sacrifice, completing the law, and redeeming us from sin.
You might not spend the next 40 days reflecting on your need of forgiveness but even one day of remembering how we are all smudged, made dirty by sin and how Jesus covered up that smudge with his blood, cleansing and reconciling us to the Father is a great way to spend the day! Let’s Pray
Jesus thank you for becoming that perfect sacrifice; becoming little, entering our darkness, coming to earth in order to die on the cross for us. We are all sinful and fall short of the glory of God, but because of your obedience to the Father, and out of love, we have now all been redeemed and cleansed by your blood. May our gratitude for what you have done extend beyond 40 days, beyond Lent, beyond Easter, and stay with us always. Amen
Reflective Questions for Self and Soul-Tending:
How do you ordinarily observe Lent?
How will you incorporate today’s message into your plan of self and soul-care?