“Of Water, Born” – February 17, 2021 – Ash Wednesday

St. Helen’s Daily Lenten Devotional

We hear the prophet’s call…Return to the Lord, with fasting, weeping, mourning…Gather together and repent, together.
And with trepidation, and perhaps some sorrow, we gaze into the mirror of truth. Our personal offenses, the sins of the present we continue to commit are revealed. Many we have no desire to reject. We pretend no contrition for them

But our brokenness, without providing details…that we can confess, a bit generic, but still…And truly, God is aware, we are penitent for some of our sins…
How honest do we have to be? God knows the lie…the pretenses, transgressions, immoralities

All that darkens and ensnares us…Right to the core, the heart of the matter Lead us not into temptation…Save us…from the time of trial

Create in me a clean heart, O God…Create in us

Not simply as individuals do we stand before the throne of God
But as representatives on behalf…of humanity…those who care and those who don’t

To receive the Imposition of Ashes…doesn’t that mean forced, or an obligation?
But we come willingly, prepared to plea bargain for ourselves, to advocate for the world

On each forehead is traced the sign of the cross, virtually this year
A dark smudge not unlike a name tag, saying ‘sinner’…
speaking of the frailty and uncertainty of human life and the penitence of the community as a whole. Mea culpa…through my fault…In thought, word and deed…done and left undone…
From generation to generation and to this very minute

The ashes of palms, those waved in in mass excitement… ‘Hosanna’ acclamations then shouts of ‘Crucify him’. And the mark remains inscribed long after we have rinsed off the dust.
We claim obedience to Matthew’s Gospel direction to embark on this journey, not calling attention to it, not as the hypocrites do. True piety, or is it all form?
So you give a little money, so you are seen to pray and sing, so what?
Where is your treasure…that is where your heartbeat will be. Remember…And to dust shall we return. Reminiscent of baptism. Holy chrism. I sign you with the cross, the symbol of death and resurrection and mark you as Christ’s own forever. Death to sin.  

And out of the ashes…
New life in Christ ‘an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere’ … to know and love, and the gift of God’s Spirit, God’s peace, God’s joy Forgiven, restored, healed, renewed!
By God’s unfailing grace, alone.