Ash Wednesday || An Invitation Into The Season of Lent – Pastor Chris Giambelluca
Today is Ash Wednesday. Marking the beginning of the Lenten season of the church calendar, Ash Wednesday has been observed by Christians over centuries and is embraced by many worship traditions. Typically spent as a time in solemn reflection, prayer, fasting, and repentance, Christians all over the world observe the 40 days leading up to the Easter festival. A season of preparation for the anticipated celebration of Jesus’ ultimate victory over sin and death. On this day, with a heart of humbleness and seeking renewal, we turn to God asking for the grace to notice the ways we have put other things before or between us and our relationship with Christ. Then intentionally move it aside, abide in Christ alone for forgiveness and our foundation of love, hope, strength, courage, and compassion to live wholly and known as the beloved of His Kingdom here on Earth. Ashes made from previous year’s Palm Sunday fronds will often mark the forehead of Christians who have made such a commitment towards renewal in Christ afresh on this marker day and symbolize death and repentance, reminding us “ For dust you are and to dust you will return.”
In the practice of Lenten fasting, many Christians walk symbolically alongside Jesus in his 40 days of temptation. For some, it is foregoing food, sweets, alcohol, caffeine. For others, it may be social media, hobbies, shopping, or habits. It may be focused on distractions or work-life imbalances. Through intentional prayer, observe what may be taking the place of Jesus in your life now and seek His grace to release it and turn towards Him to be filled. Over the next 40 days continue this cycle every time you find yourself moving back towards whatever it is, listening again to His invitation to you, and then respond in praise and prayer. Jesus will walk with you.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
To Read a poetic response to Psalm 51 CLICK HERE
White As Snow – Jon Foreman
An offering of worship through music by Jon Foreman from his 2008 release Fall and Winter
A prayer through the season…
excerpt adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book
God of the desert,
as I follow Jesus into the unknown,
may I recognize the tempter when he comes;
let it be your bread I eat,
your world I serve and you alone I worship.
In your mercy Lord, hear my prayer.