Making ourselves ready

In celebrating the Christian liturgical year, we are about to enter into the Lenten season. It all begins on Wednesday, March 9.

Ash Wednesday is a time where the church intentionally focuses on our relationship with our Lord. The church can really only point you in the right direction. It is up to each individual to examine one’s own relationship with his or her Lord.

So, what can I tell you about Him that will help this Lenten Season  to end in the best celebration of Easter you ever had?  I think I have the answer, and it comes straight from God’s word, it comes from the Gospel of John, Chapter 3, and verse 16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Here are three reasons why we begin this season of Lent with ashes. I acknowledge that I have borrowed some thoughts from Dr. Reed Lessing as found in a bulletin pamphlet of Creative Communications for the Parish 2010.

First, it is Genesis 3:19 which says, “That we are dust, and to dust we shall return.” Someday we will return to dust and ashes. Because when Adam and Eve fell into sin; judgment and death came to all.  We all are born into sin, so we are marked for death and ashes. It is logical then, that ashes speak of condemnation for our sin.

Second, ashes also speak of our total dependence upon our loving God. Humans tend to think that we can do everything on our own. We think we are capable of taking care of ourselves and make our own plans for greatness. However, so often these plans fail and crumble into ashes. No matter how great we think we are, we are nothing, without the grace of God in our lives. “For by grace are you saved through faith ... it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Third, ashes speak of our humiliation and repentance. When the prophet Jonah preached to the city of Nineveh about the coming judgment of God upon their city, the people believed Jonah, and repented with signs of sackcloth and ashes. We too, must humble ourselves before God and ask forgiveness of God for our sins. “There is no one who is righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

As Jonah called the people of Nineveh to repent, God is calling on each one of us to examine ourselves and to do the same.