Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Season of Lent. For those long steeped in church worship and tradition we know exactly what that means. For others from less traditional churches or no church at all wonder what that could possibly mean. In fact as they see various people today with something blackish on their forehead they may be wondering what is going on.
I love Ash Wednesday because it is so visual. As we start the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday we enter a season of 6 weeks in which we are supposed to be more inwardly focused, prayerful, reflective, and repentant. We are given time to bring our heart to a place of deeply appreciating what Jesus did on the Cross for us on Good Friday. A place in which we can confess our sins and brokenness and seek forgiveness in order to bring healing and wholeness. And on Ash Wednesday, we do this in a very visual way.
As the burnt palm branches from Palm Sunday the year before are rubbed onto our foreheads with the words “From dust you have come and to dust you have returned. Repent and believe in the Gospel”, we are reminded of our humanity. We are reminded that we are made of God’s created dirt. And we will return to that dirt at some point in our lives. Something about hearing those words invites deep humility to consider we are in fact not “King of the world!”
But what is most powerful is the opportunity to sit in a room and see all of the other foreheads with ashen crosses smudged on them and be reminded you are not alone in your brokenness. And that God is full of so much love for you and for all of us. And by letting someone rub a cross on your forehead you are saying, “Lord forgive me, too.”
I hope you get some time today to pray a prayer of confession. To ask God to forgive you. To start your Lenten journey on your knees in the presence of the one who can do something about your brokenness. Let the 40 days begin now.
Grace and Peace,