Ash Wednesday is special day for many Christians. I grew up in a Baptist church and never got to experience it as a child. I wish I had because it is a beautiful display of the gospel and now one of the days I look forward to as a minister. Yesterday I got my hands dirty as I placed the mark of the cross on fellow Christians.
I by nature am a bit of a clean freak and normally don’t rush into anything that requires getting dirty but that’s exactly what Ash Wednesday is about. It is about placing fingers in ash, marks on foreheads, and being confronted with the fact that we have been dirtied by sin. None of us like to acknowledge it but we desperately need to. We are all sinners.
We can’t have the good news of Christ without the realization of sin. Without sin there would be no reason for grace or a need for the sacrifice of Christ. Ash Wednesday is an intrusion into our lives to remind us of just that. We are sinners who desperately need a Savior. Ash Wednesday is a day of hope because we realize that our dirtiness can be made clean by a Savior who loves us. We are reminded that forgiveness is real.
We need a Savior not just because one day we will return to dust but because we have been given this life to live. As Christians we know what a life lived to the fullest looks like because of the example of Jesus. Jesus spent time in prayer, fasting, and in solitude. Let us follow his example during Lent. Jesus also spent time getting dirty and living life among those who needed to experience the love of God firsthand. Let’s not forget to embrace that too this Lent.
Maybe you are giving up coffee, or sweets, or junk food. Why not use the money you save from those to give to a charity making a real difference to those who are often forgotten in our world? If you are giving up social media, TV, or video games, you can devote that time to helping others or to a spiritual discipline that will help you grow your own faith. When we let go of something, we often find our hands empty. Let’s use those empty hands to bring about God’s work here.