Tomorrow millions of Christians around the world will celebrate Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023 by having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross.
In one sense it is a picturesque practice with not much significance to our daily lives.
That is until the ash heaps of Dachau, Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen are brought to mind. Many are too young to have ever been exposed to the men, women and children burnt to ashes there. Then there were the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that were reduced to ashes in a matter of minutes.
What about the fathers and the sons and daughters who lay in the dust of foreign lands whose lives were taken from them long before their time? Keep in mind the thousands buried beneath the rubble of earthquakes. Then there are the helpless fetuses that lay in ashes or the young murdered on the streets of our cities that now exist in utter chaos.
It is only a calloused soul that breathes the thought that ashes are not relevant. Ashes leave a trail of the worst sins of the 21st century. So when you receive the sign of the cross rubbed into your brow with the ashes of last years burned olive branches, accept the fact that we are equivalent to dust and the flesh in which we live our lives is composed of dust. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7.
We will return to dust and the hope that we will rise again has absolutely nothing to do with us or what the future of this world has to offer. It has everything to do with what Jesus has done for us. Through His death and resurrection we are offered new life in Him.
So let the season of Lent do for you what it was meant to do for Christians down through the centuries. In daily sorrow and repentance we give up the life we were given and by faith alone accept everlasting life that God offers us through His Son Jesus Christ.
Come, you sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Saviour,
O there are ten thousand charms.
Come, you thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, you weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?
Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
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