Our Lenten journey begins March 6th and the words of Psalm 51 can help us to
prepare. In this Psalm, David is confessing his sin and his need for forgiveness.
“according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so
that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.”
David is saying he deserves punishment for his sin. He knows he is a sinner in the
eyes of God. Can we acknowledge that in the eyes of God we are sinners as well?
We are the reason that Christ died on the cross. Because of our sins, we have this
focus in Lent. The Psalmist says: ”Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin
did my mother conceive me.”
We are born into sin and live our whole lives as sinners. We might be tempted to
say “not I”, I am a good person. I live a life that does not do all those awful sins
like kill, steal, commit adultery. How can I be a sinner. Yet, in God’s eyes we are
sinners. We fall short of what God expects of us all the time. Since God demands
perfection and we cannot achieve it, our sins do mount up.
But listen to what David says next: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a
new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not
thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with
a willing spirit. He asks God to cleanse his heart. Put a new and right spirit within
me God. We first have to understand and acknowledge our position before God.
Then we can turn to God and ask for his cleansing forgiveness. God can change us
from the inside out with his grace and mercy.
This grace of God can be hard to understand for some, but it’s easy for us because
Jesus paid the price of our sinfulness. He paid the cost for all the awful things, and
the little things we have done in our lives.
On Ash Wednesday this year, we need to acknowledge our sinfulness, we need to
come to the table of the Lord with hearts willing to acknowledge our position before
God. We come to the table as sinners and we receive forgiveness in through and
with the body and blood of Christ.
As the ashes are placed on your forehead, reminding you of your sin and the
forgiveness of God through the cross of Christ, acknowledge your sin and repent.
Ask for forgiveness. The ashes are traditionally from the palms used on the previous
Palm Sunday and a reminder of the Holy Week of Christ. The week he gave us his
body and blood as the payment for our sins so that today and everyday we might
receive forgiveness and cleansing. Our Lenten journey begins as we see the
forgiveness God has planned for us through the life of his son Jesus Christ.
In His Name, Amen.