Yesterday, March 5th was Ash Wednesday in the Liturgical Calendar of the Anglican Church.
Along with other brothers and sisters participating in the Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes Services, I found myself standing before our Rector as he etched the ashes into my forehead while saying, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
It was a repentance service, but the ashes also served to remind me of my mortality and how much I need God – how much we all need God. And, I was reminded in this very act, I was pressing in and moving forward in faith. I was joining the Apostle Paul and all believers in that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before me.
We press forward that we may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of our own…that we may know him and the power of his resurrection, sharing his sufferings and becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible we may attain the resurrection from the dead. The Apostle Paul continues – that we must press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3)
I love that! There is a goal and there is a prize! Our time on this earth is a time to remember and to keep pressing in. We remember what he has done and we practice those things we remember.
On Ash Wednesday this tradition is about remembering that we serve a Holy God and he has called us to be holy as he is holly. The ashes remind us to lean heavily upon him confessing our sins and repenting afresh to be made new daily. That’s why King David sang, “Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me.”
Anglicans base their traditions and much of their liturgy on the Hebrew practice of remembering the goodness of the LORD. Hebrew scriptures continually repeat the remembering of the goodness of the LORD and all he has done for his people. God’s desire has always been to dwell with his people. And it is because of his great mercy and everlasting love that he has made a way for his people to live forever in his presence as a holy people.
Jesus is the way and we remember this especially on Ash Wednesday as we confess our sins. We know that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. Jesus is our righteousness. (I John 2:1)
We have no righteousness of our own. The Ashes remind us of that.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17) NLT
Amen! Let’s press in to this season of Lent. We’re on our way to the Resurrection, but first we must walk the road with Christ to Calvary, remembering that he conquered death and sits at the right hand of the Father having been given all authority!
Amen! He has made a way for us. Let’s remember that and follow him daily pressing in to the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
14 For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.