Most of the time we avoid looking at our weaknesses, failures and sins. Not today. Today we take a long hard look, examine our conscience, and honestly admit that we are sinners. Why? So that freed from the slavery of temptation and sin we can receive the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
The ashes on our foreheads invite us to repent of the sins that keep us from God and one another. Through fasting, prayer and almsgiving we have powerful tools that can open our hearts and transform our lives in this great season of Lent.
These are the words we hear today as we come forward to begin a new Lent. We physically mark our foreheads – smudge them with grimy ashes – to recall the simple fact that we are all sinners and stand in need of God’s mercy.
And what great mercy it is! Perhaps that’s why we pause. We need mercy. We crave forgiveness. We hunger to be loved simply and gently, no strings attached, no conditions required.
These ashes remind us that we need….God.
Pause today. We reflect on what is broken or wounded in our lives – to discover where we are hurting.
Then look outward. This is our opportunity to consider how we have broken or wounded others – recognizing that perhaps another has suffered through our thoughts, words, or deeds.