Lenten Devotional: Ash Wednesday

Psalm 95Psalm 32Psalm 143Psalm 102Psalm 130;
Jonah 3:1—4:11Hebrews 12:1-14Luke 18:9-14

“Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
Psalm 32:1

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent as all Christians who observe the liturgical calendar know well. But, where in scripture do we find Ash Wednesday, Lent, the imposition of ashes and penance driven denial? The short answer is, we cannot. Our celebration of Ash Wednesday is one of the products of the 325 Council of Nicaea. However, the scriptures suggested for this Ash Wednesday provide in my opinion a scriptural rationale for Ash Wednesday and Lent.

First, the five Psalms suggest necessity of having our failures to keep God’s commandments forgiven, and the joy of experiencing forgiveness Second, the Jonah selection, no, not the tale of the whale but the episode of the one-day shade plant, demonstrates that God does monitor us and holds us accountable. Third, the Hebrews passage tells us that a loving creator God will discipline us based on love. Fourth, the passage from Luke suggests that being good is never good enough. Being humble in the knowledge that we can never be good enough is a status to be desired. What better way for most of us to be humbled than to be reminded of our sins as we observe Lent.

One way to think of our Lenten discipline is to know that what we forgo during the season is to be a reminder of God’s loving plan that provides for assurance of forgiveness of our transgressions. Perhaps each time we are aware of our Lenten reminder of what we are giving up or better still what we are doing to make a positive response to our gift of forgiveness, would be a prayer of gratitude. Perhaps Lent might be a time to try the “Save us from the time of trial,” Rite II alternate form of the Lord’s Prayer.

PRAY: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.”