Ash Wednesday 2017
Ashes on my forehead remind me of the need for renewal of my spirit. The ashes remind me of my longing to push past the deathly places within me and to re-experience a resurrection. One author has described Ash Wednesday as a time for smudges on the soul. Deeper than the sign of the cross imposed with ashes on my forehead is the smudge on my soul, a smudge that almost hurts in its reminder of my need for renewed and refreshed faith.
The Prophet Joel expresses it best:
Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
– Joel 2:12-13, NRSV
“Rend your hearts and not your garments,” the prophet said. Open up your soul to the ashes of repentance. Experience Ash Wednesday deeply and personally. For the gift of this day is a season of confession and change, hope for a fresh start.
So today we begin the arduous Lenten journey from shadow to light, from hopelessness to hope, from unfaith to faith, from emptiness to wholeness, from death to resurrection. The Prophet Joel prophesied that the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all people through the Savior of the world (Joel 2:28-32). At the end of this journey, may each of us experience the lavish, gracious outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the holy miracle of resurrection.
God of life,
On this journey we pass from the shadow of death
to the light of the resurrection.
Remain with us and give us hope
that, rejoicing in the gift of the Spirit
who gives life to our mortal flesh,
we may be clothed with the garment of immortality,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
– From the Revised Common Lectionary