Today is Ash Wednesday the beginning of the Lenten Season. In many ways it is a season that is less popular and less enthusiastically observed than some of the more celebratory seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Easter. It is easy to talk about the birth of Jesus in a manger and it is easy to talk about the joy and victory of resurrection. But it is hard to talk about our need for cleansing, healing, and forgiveness.
We want to talk about the empty tomb and not the agony of the cross. We want to talk about the revelation on the road to Emmaus and not the despair the Disciples felt after Jesus death. We want to talk about forgiveness without talking about repentance.
Some people do not like Lent because they feel that it is about self pity or becoming maudlin about our sinfulness. But that is a parody of Lent. Lent is about recognizing our humaness, our fallen nature, and our deep abiding need for God in our lives. It is about remembering that we were not created to go it alone in this world. We were created to experience and express the loving mercy of God and share God’s love with the world.
Ash Wednesday and Lent are part of our acknowledgement that the grace of God in our lives is indeed unmerited favor. God in is all powerful prevenient love and grace has cared about us and loved us even when we are our worst selves, even when we did not know or even denied that we needed God’s love.
Today and tonight around the world millions of Christians will kneel and have ashes placed on our foreheads as a reminding that from dust we have come and to dust we shall return. We are created beings created in the image of God and our very life, our very existence, the very breath we breath is an unmerited gift of God. And that is one of the messages of Lent. It is all grace! It is all unmerited favor! And it is all a gift! We celebrate this Holy Lent not because we deserve anything from God but because, thanks be to God, he has given us all things!
May you have a blessed Lenten Season and may you experience the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ in your lives in these forty days. Thanks be to God!