Ash Wednesday, February 26
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news.”
Everyone has scars. Physical or emotional. Everyone has them. Scars are not something about which to be ashamed or self-conscious. They define who we are, and they tell a story. They also fade with time but never fully disappear.
The ashes we receive this day are a symbol of hope. It’s about the promise of new life and God’s great love for us. Everyone who gathers this night to receive this smudged sooty symbol bears the evidence of Jesus’ scars and their own healing.
Several years ago, I was privileged to distribute ashes to commuters at the train station as they hurried off to work. They were grateful to receive the gift of the ashes and the convenience we provided them during their busy day.
As I looked in their eyes, I wondered what their stories were and the scars they carried. I saw gratitude for the opportunity to receive ashes and the hope it brought to their lives.
That is the good news! The cross of ashes we receive today is not about making us fearful about dying or guilty about our scars. The cross is about hope and the promise of new life in Christ. Our scars are a result of our wounds being healed. What a gift!
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for looking beyond our scars and marking us with the cross of Christ forever.
To ponder: How can you look beyond your own scars and be more like Christ?