Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent. For a long time I discarded that tradition and went without celebrating Lent in any real way, but in recent years I have come back to do some thinking about it and recover a sense of worshipping with the whole church.
The season of Lent is an opportunity for reflecting, for remembering, for repenting as we recall the death and resurrection of Jesus. Lent isn’t for navel-gazing or moping: it’s for a clear-headed and far-sighted facing our own condition in light of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. We never repent thinking we could justify God’s forgiveness, but we always repent because of his staggering love for us that has wrecked and remade our very selves.
I don’t have much to add here, so here are two wiser voices that each offer a powerful mediation: one on Lent, and one on Ash Wednesday.
Sin ravages God’s Shalom in my life and in the world around me. I tell the truth about myself with the ashes on my forehead. I’m a sinner in need of grace. But friends, remember also, the ashes are placed on our foreheads in the sign of a cross. We are not without hope. We take our sins seriously with the ashes, we take God’s grace seriously by receiving them in the sign of the cross, because in the cross is the promise of resurrection, and new life in Christ right now.
I’m thankful that the ashes are about more than my own death. They’re about the death of the God whose brokenness and ultimate restoration heals my failure, who brings purpose to a life that could easily be written off as ordinary.
Find an Ash Wednesday service tonight and remember that you, too, are dust and ashes. You, too, have a faithful Savior – Jesus Christ. If you are local to Chattanooga, join us at Signal Mountain Presbyterian at 6:30pm. May your own heart sense the call of Jesus to leave life as you know it and follow him in the fire of love with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.