Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday - A Day of New Beginnings

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent.  Today is one of those days that I yearn to arrive.  It seems as though the marking of ashes on this day and the beginning of Lent always bring so much hope within me.  

"Beginning Wednesday, I am definitely going to pray for an hour each day."
"Come Wednesday, I am going to no longer push snooze."
"Starting Wednesday, I am going to give up Diet Coke."
"This Lent, I am going to turn a new leaf.  I am going to become more like Christ each day."

Lent is a season of new beginnings.  T.S. Eliot once wrote, "What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning.  The end is where we start from."

We start from wherever we are - right now.  Whether we are filled with sin or having a hard time thinking of what sins are alive within us, we start here.  We examine ourselves, asking God to point out the places in our lives that need to be corrected.  We seek God's wisdom in our lives, praying that God will illuminate the places of darkness so that with God's help, there can be more light within us.  

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 51:  Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.  Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.  You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

This is my prayer for this Lent.  What I desire more than anything else is a clean heart and a new and right spirit modeled after the teachings of Christ.

This is a day of new beginnings.  No matter where you are, what you have done, what you have left undone, who you have loved or who you have failed to love, the promises are for each one of us.  Thanks be to God.

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