Dear friends in Christ,
A couple of years ago, I was in a group of people who were asked to list their favorite days in the church calendar. I’ll never forget this passionate answer from one of my friends: “My favorite day of the year is Ash Wednesday. It’s the one day a year we are completely honest.”
After getting over my shock that my friend’s favorite day was a solemn fast day, I pondered her answer more. And I realized she’s exactly right. Ash Wednesday is that day every year when we remember that we are utterly dependent on God, that we are broken and need repairing, and that there is joy in repentance. The prayer for today says it perfectly:
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
God hates nothing. Nothing is beyond redemption, and that certainly includes us. All we need to do to clean the slate is start over, trying our best to make amends—to God and to our neighbors.
The center of this prayer is a petition to God to help us get the process of repentance started, “Create and make in us new and contrite hearts…”
It’s a prayer we all need. I know I do. It’s go healthy to remember that it’s not all about ourselves. It’s all about God. And if it’s all about God, then we really want God to work through our lives, in our hearts.
Today, I hope you’ll find your way to a church to hear the Good News that God loves you, that God desires your repentance. You’ll hear that we can’t do it on our own, but God stands ready to help us along the way. You’ll hear all the ways we have messed up, and all the ways we can return to the Lord’s way. You’ll be reminded that this earthly life is short, and God invites us to use this time well.
Blessings to you as we begin anew our journey through the season of Lent, with its solemnity and its joy.
More from our ministry:
Pray with us through Lent at prayer.forwardmovement.org
Listen for God’s invitations in the new book, A Generous Beckoning
From the Grow Christians archives: Kids and Ash Wednesday
There’s still time to join the ChurchNext Lenten course on Faith and Money