Today, Ash Wednesday, the gospel reading from Matthew gives us instructions fitting for the lenten season ahead:
- “Take care not to perform righteous deed in order that people may see them…”
- “When you give alms” do it in “secret.”
- “When you pray … go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.”
- “When you fast” —don’t “appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden.”
All of this secrecy and care to be hidden, yet today, Ash Wednesday, we wear our intention to do all all these things on our foreheads. We announce to the world in ashes that we are dust. We are sinners, in need of a savior. But because it’s so public — because it comes at the start of Lent, and not during — and because they’re in the shape of the Cross: our ashes are a sign of the hope that we have in Christ, to rise with him from the death of sin.
Christ’s saving presence is written in the ashes.
Announce to the world today that you are a sinner, that you are dust, but that there is hope. And may the disciplines of Lent draw you closer to the one who cleanses and heals and forgives … and reigns!
©2016 Sarah Christmyer
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