Ash Wednesday devotional, 14 February 2018

Ash Wednesday Devotional

(14 February 2018)

Christian Spirituality > Lent > Ash Wednesday < Read this in your own language.

(Also as an mp3 audio file.)

Ash Wednesday Scriptures:

Amos 5:6-15 and Joel 2:12-17

Psalm 51 or Psalm 103

Hebrews 12:1-14 and 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

Gospel : Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21; or Luke 18:9-14

On Ash Wednesday, it's not what but why.

Ash Wednesday, the Start of Lent

On Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, it's time to take stock of truths about ourselves that don't sit well in our stomachs. There's one truth in particular that leaves the people today's world most uneasy: the universe does not revolve around you. Psalm 103:14, like , reminds us of what we started as. Psalm 51 says that we've become botched up. Amos writes about the two-faced trickery of his generation. Our self-obsessed era is no different. We were made very good, but we keep mucking it up. Because you're good but not all good, God demands that you be truthful about it. God says 'deal with it'. (After all, God did; look at that cross.) Jesus call on all people to be at least as spiritual as we seem, instead of seeming more spiritual than we are.

Many of us turn to religious behavior in order to deal with it, but alas. There's no magical solution. Even by doing good things, you can't 'do' your way around it. Not even on Ash Wednesday.

The God who sees all isn't fooled for a second. What does He say? 'You've got your reward now -- the attention, the 15 minutes of fame. But that's all.' Those who seek to be treated highly will be brought down, and their deeds turn to ash. Those who get real about their humble place in the presence of God and everyone else will be treated highly. A simple, helpful rule: if you love the Jesus of the cross and of the empty tomb, then don't draw attention to yourself or boast about how good you are - draw it to Jesus by actually following Him.

It would be a clear witness to others if we were that way. So what are you waiting for?

Father, please help me to remember who I am. And please help burn into me the truth that I will die, and Your Son already has -- and He shows me that death is not the end of it. Amen.

Other Lent, Holy Week and Easter devotionals:

First Sunday in Lent.
Palm Sunday (25 March 2018) (or as mp3).
Maundy Thursday (29 March 2018) (or as mp3).
Good Friday (30 March 2018).

Ash Wednesday links:

Ash Wednesday Recap

What is Ash Wednesday?
           -------- the start of the Lent season.
           -------- a day of repentance, humility, discipline, and perspective.

When is Ash Wednesday?
           -------- 14 February 2016

The Meaning of Ash Wednesday:
           -------- so we remember that we will die, but life anew comes for those who follow Christ.

Why is Ash Wednesday grim?
           -------- so our faith becomes rooted in the coldest realities of life (and death), for that is where following Jesus will first take us. Easter is about where following Jesus ends up: the joy of the new creation, the Kingdom of God.