Ash Wednesday: Contemplation and Cleansing

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It’s a day for repentance, a day to remind ourselves of our need to confess our shortcomings and to turn always to God for forgiveness and cleansing. Ashes are used throughout the Bible as symbols of repentance (see Jonah 3:5-9, Job 42:6, and Matthew 11:21).  At our Ash Wednesday service, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in worship, quiet reflection, and communion, along with the administration of ashes to the forehead in the shape of a cross.

Here is Psalm 51:1-17, a prayer by David which sums up both our attitude and our needs on this Ash Wednesday:

Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
that my mouth may praise you.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

You may recognize these words from a worship song we sing frequently:

Join us Wednesday evening at 7 PM to honor the beginning of the Lenten season and start our journey towards Easter.

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