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Summary: Ash Wednesday Sermon

Ash Wednesday

Sermon

Psalm 51:2-5

"Sinner"

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Saviour Jesus who is the Christ. Amen

Ash Wednesday begins our Lenten journey. A journey that leads us through the season of Lent, to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and then finally to the Easter Resurrection.

Along this journey we will see the grace and love that God has for us through His son Jesus Christ. A love that transforms us into what God had intended for us to be all along.

And part of that journey needs us to realize who we are. We are not gods, we are not perfect, we are not what God intended for us to be. We are sinners.

On this Ash Wednesday we need to realize just that fact. We are sinners in need of God’s grace. Without God we are nothing.

Someone once said:

The difference between God and us is seen in the mud. God molded the mud,blew on it and created life. We mold the mud, blow on it, and end up with---mud. We like to play God. We like to pretend that we are as wise and powerful as God. But we still end up with mud.

We still end up with lives that fall short of God’s expectation of us.

We need to be as honest with ourselves as the writer of the Psalm as he says:

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

The ashes of Ash Wednesday remind of our sinfulness before God.

A pastor wrote:

" The first thing the ashes of Ash Wednesday remind us of is WHO we are. As the sign of the cross is traced on your head, the first mark is in the shape of a capital "I." An "I" that stands for someone who is uniquely "me." Me with all my strengths and weaknesses. With all my talents and all my sins.

It’s the "I" that also separates me from God. The capital "I" that forms part of the cross etched into my forehead is also the "I" that stands in the middle of my "sin" -; that state of being separated from God. The cross of ashes etched into our forehead reminds us of our uniqueness, of who we are, and of how we stand in need of God’s grace.

The ash cross on our forehead not only reminds us who we are, it also reminds us WHOSE we are. In imposing the ashes, the vertical stroke of the capital "I" is followed by the horizontal stroke, which crosses out the "I." The "I" that is crossed out is the "I" that leads to feelings of alienation from God. It is as if in the horizontal stroke the loving arms of Christ are stretched out to welcome me back home. The wiping out of the "I" that separates me from God also gives me the freedom and ability to reach out to my brothers and sisters. I am reminded of whose I am as I am held in the arms of my savior and as I reach out in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Christ. " 1

The capital "I" is the sinful part of me that wants to play God but can only make mud. The capital "I" is the part of me that during this Lenten season I must acknowledge as the sinful self, so that the redeeming miracle might engulf me with all of its splendor.

For if I do not see my sinfulness, then I cannot accept the grace of God through Christ which died on the cross for me and rose on Easter so that I might have eternal life.

"The ashes of Lent do indeed remind us of our human frailty,of our mortality.But they also remind us that God takes us just as we are,frail and human and prone to sin,but also recoverable,forgivable,forgiven.Lent is a time to sweep the debris from our lives, to wash down the walls of our souls.It is not tidy.

One of my favorite Lenten resources reminds us that "Our windows need washing,our temples need cleansing,and the earth itself needs a good bath....Winter doesn’t leave without blustery battles that push things over and mess things up and even break things.Lent,if we honestly face its fury,will leave the landscape littered with bits and pieces of ourselves."2 3

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