Ash Wednesday Thoughts
Or it could be an analogy of us, as having new life in Christ, impaled by our sins, surrounded by temptations, but always growing onward toward Christ. I am sure there are many different ways to look at this image. Take from it what you garner.
Below are actually some thoughts from a post I made in 2013, but I did not want to reblog the whole post, so I thought I would copy, read, and tweak that post today, on Ash Wednesday. I've re-posted a few other posts from previous years too, as linked below.
In 2007, I blogged about "purging" and it is actually a good read for me and something good to reflect upon. The thought of spending the next six weeks "purging all my sins" is good.
Here is another post in 2007 I wrote regarding my addictions as I reflect on what my sins are and what I should be correcting during the Lenten season. I still need to focus on putting God before my "collecting memories."
This Ash Wednesday poem by another local Pastor reminds me that my sins hurt God as much as it hurts me. It reminds me that as we focus on our sins, it leads to Easter morning where there is healing and new life.
On Ash Wednesday, the Imposition of Ashes is to remind us that "dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:19) It is helpful for me to at least once a year be humbled by the thought that I am just merely "dust." When I die, my body will rot away and return to dust. This body fat and everything I do not like about my body are meaningless in this world and the only thing that matters is what is inside because that is where the lasting happens. There is just something about the Pastor repeating each time ashes are put upon a forehead "dust you are, and to dust you shall return." That repeating of words drives it into my soul.
I love this site for looking up Lutheran hymns and found "Savior, when in dust to Thee." Now, I do wish the old lyrics could be sung to newer tunes as I'm not crazy about the organ music, but there is something in these tried and tested old lyrics as I read them that touches my soul. The song begins with the repentant sinner so sorrowful of sins, weeping on knees, looking toward the sky, while our Father bends down from his throne to hear us. What reverence! How wonderful that both the repentant sinner and the Father are reaching toward each other! The lyrics remind me of David's prayers in the Psalms and leave me yearning to be as repentant. The hymn reminds me that I am in wilderness in my sin, wandering around, and that I am confessing my horrible sins to the one who endured the agony and gloom-dark-veiled skies of the Cross for me.
Half way through this video the song is sung with the lyrics on the bottom of the screen.
Reading that intense hymn feels so right and sets me into the right place.
Lent is 40 days, but if you count them on the calendar, it is 46 days because we are not to include Sundays in Lent. Sundays are a mini-Easter when we are reminded of our forgiveness on the Cross, but on Monday through Saturday, we focus on the somber time of our sinful self that deserves eternal death.
The 40 days is associated with:
*Jesus's 40 days tempted in the wilderness; attended by angels in the end (Matthew 4:1-11)
*40 days of being tested and wandering in the wilderness by the Israelite; ending in celebration entering the promised land (Exodus 16:35)
*Moses' 40 days on the mountain Sinai; returning to the people in celebration of receipt of the ten commandments (Exodus 24:18)
*40 days and 40 nights of rain endured by Noah; which ends in celebration when the waters recede (Genesis 7:4)
Lent is a 40 day journey. It is a personal journey. Lent is a season of reflection. Lent is a period of preparation (as in the above references). How am I broken? What has God done for me? What is God calling me to be? Where have I wandered off from God? What is God doing to sustain my faith? What do I have to give thanks for? Lent is a time for prayer. Lent is a time for inward private growth.