Ash Wednesday. A day to remember from dust we have come and to dust we will return. Remembering our mortality and past is one way to fully embrace life. It is a day to begin the journey to Easter with repentance and fall upon God’s steadfast love and mercy. Thanks to God we do not receive what we deserve!
The lectionary passage traditionally considered for the day is from Psalm 51 which is David’s repentance psalm after his sinful actions with Bathsheba and Uriah.
For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.Psalm 51:16-17
I don’t like to be vulnerable. I hate to show weakness. Is it okay to say that? I desire to be respected. I want to be loved and lovable. And yet…showing weakness, being vulnerable, admitting that I am dust and to dust that I will return is the very posture the psalmist claims that God finds acceptable. My nature of needing to be respected undermines God’s work in my life. I am learning that almost every day.
I used to think that being forgiven meant I could forget my past and move on. Remember…I like to be thought of respectful…one who has it all together. And in one regard forgiveness does mean we can move on. I no longer need to feel guilt or shame about past actions that God has forgiven. But I dare not forget…for I am convinced that remembering my past transgressions is a grace from God. For remembering reminds me of what not to do. I also am humbled when I remember what I am capable of. It is tough to judge others when in touch with our own forgiven sins. It also makes us more compassionate to forgive. Remembering is used by God to change attitudes and actions.
There but for the grace of God…was I.
When we can say those words not out of shame but out of humility, we find where God has been working. I for one have many places God has worked because God has pulled me out of many a hole and patiently, lovingly, and gracefully allowed me to remember where I was and who I was.
I’ll be thanking God with ashes upon my forehead tonight for the grace of forgiveness and remembering.
Remember from dust you have come and to dust you will return.
Repent and believe the Gospel.