and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” Ezekiel 9:4
I didn’t think I would find a scripture for Ash Wednesday, but I did. In biblical times ashes were a symbol of mourning and penance. By having their foreheads marked with the sign of a cross it symbolized that they belonged to Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross. Today is the first day of Lent. As a Christian, I will go to mass and receive ashes on my forehead. However, I never knew the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday service were saved and burned to produce ashes for this service. As an adult, I’d never seen this done or knew about it. When my girls were altar servers (which was a long time ago) was the first time I experienced this event. It really made receiving ashes more personal. Rituals bring the meaning of things together for me.
You know receiving ashes is a sign of penance or admitting we are sinners. It also means we are sorry for our sins. You learned that as a child. However through all our sadness over our sins today, remember today also symbolizes we belong to Jesus, who died on the cross. Belonging to Jesus should lighten it up a little. Let our prayer services, fasting and good deeds during Lent help us draw closer together. We should use our fasting and praying during Lent as a way to bring our families, friends, and country together. The small things you give up for Lent or the good deeds we do can never repay what Jesus did for us. During mass, we will receive ashes with the sign of the cross. As I learned years ago, the mark on our forehead is an outward sign of our sinfulness. Remember, if along with God’s forgiveness, we forgive ourselves, we will become different people, as we go through the Lenten Season. We could possibly turn things around in our country.
Father God, as we start out our Lenten season hear our prayers and accept our fasting for our families and our country. Help us to keep our Lenten promises to you. Give us the grace and strength to get through these trying times. We ask you this in Jesus’s name. Amen