Ash Wednesday Word for 2023

From Pastor Paul Kopka

Blessed Ash Wednesday!

Today begins our forty day journey* of Lent. On this day we confess our sin in a litany of repentance. Throughout this season we are invited to carry out the Lenten discipline, practices of fasting, prayer, and works of love. On this day we may receive the sign of ashes. This ancient symbol of repentance reminds us of our mortality. Returning to God’s mercy and grace, marked with the cross of Christ, we make our way through Lent, eagerly longing for the baptismal waters of Easter, our spiritual rebirth.

Lent is a time to reflect on Baptism and its basis in the death and resurrection of Jesus. So, Lent is a time for rebirth and a renewal in preparation for the celebration of Easter. In the gospel readings (this year from Matthew and John) we find the intersection of the cross with discipleship.

The church will be adorned with the somber color purple, that also is a reminder of the solemnity of Lent. Crosses may even be veiled. The reminders are all around us.

For Christians, Ash Wednesday is the most solemn day of the year. As our foreheads are marked with dust, this day as no other, we acknowledge that we will die and return to the earth. Yet at the same time, the dust traces the shape of the life giving cross, which originally was marked on our foreheads at baptism. Watch for that the next time you witness a baptism.

And remember, we start our journey of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Remember we have already been reconciled to God through Jesus. We can pray for God to make our hearts clean while we rejoice that now is the day of our salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Prayer – Almighty and ever living God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the hearts of all who are penitent. Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may receive from you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

*The Church Season of Lent is a period of forty days, excluding Sundays which are always feast days celebrating the resurrection. The word Lent originally meant spring.

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