Today is Ash Wednesday, the day that begins the 40 days of Lent (or penitence period) before Easter. In the very early days of the church, this was when people who wanted to become Christians received instruction into the faith. It was a time they separated themselves from the old pagan ways of their culture. On Easter, they would be baptised, born anew in Christ and immersed into the community of faith. It was a life changing (and often life threatening) step in faith.
All over the world, people will attend services today, hear that they are but dust and ashes and to dust and ashes we all return. They’ll receive a black soot smudged in the shape of a cross on their foreheads, a mark that they are dead to the world and alive anew in Christ. The old has been burned away by the righteous blood of the Lamb to where nothing of their former worldly ways remains but ashes. Today launches a period of penitence, fasting and expressing our desire to be renewed once again in Christ.
But, shouldn’t this be our response every Wednesday, and the rest of the days of the week as well? Each morning we should arise, ask forgivenss for yesterday’s sins, renew our faith to be His vessel throughout our daily lives and receive His new mercies. Each day while we are in this world, we must pledge to not be of it and to lead others into the presence of our Savior. We are but ashes and to ashes we will return. But the good news is we have a new life, an eternal one in Christ.
I want to live from ashes to ashes – each and every day. Through God’s mercies I can discard the sins of yesterday, and awaken anew, forgiven in Christ and ready to live for Him each morning. Every day is a mini Ash Wednesday and Easter because each day Christ can conquer death and sin in our lives and immerse us anew in His love.
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalm 32:5