March 1, 2017
Scripture: Psalm 51:1-17
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
(Psalm 51:10, NRSV)
I hear my mother’s hope in the words of this psalm. Hope that I would become a better person; hope that I would use kind words, have compassion and clean up my act. I do not think that she was hoping to get me to change my language, or my thoughts, as much as she was trying to create a clean heart within me that would result in changed behavior. I have discovered that only God can truly do that.
Ash Wednesday is a reminder of our own rebellion, our speaking against God when we use harsh words against another person, group or even ourselves. Ash Wednesday reminds us that our actions or inactions adversely affect others and the world around us. As the season of Lent begins we are reminded of our sinful nature and our need to ask God for forgiveness and to create a clean heart within us. When we repent, our hearts are cleansed and the true joy of our salvation is realized. .
How to engage your worship artists and congregation in experiencing worship through ashes.
The Ash Wednesday burning of dried palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday connects a congregation in time as well as space. The cleansing fire of Love reduces human sin to dust and ashes. We are marked by our mortality by this cross of dirty ash, and paradoxically our hearts are cleansed and joy is realized.
Forgiving God, may our rebellion cease, our hearts be cleansed and our joy through Jesus Christ be full. Amen.