This week we begin to celebrate the Lent season with Ash Wednesday. So we’re taking a look at the church calendar not as a ritual or requirement, but as a way to help us align our time with Jesus’ through the different seasons of life.
Check out our Ash Wednesday discussion and prayer guide!
Reckoning with the gravity of sin | Glorying in redemption
Made For Glory, Ruined By Sin
Scripture Reading: Genesis 1:27-28, 2:1-23, 3:1-24
Questions for Reflection: What contrasts to you see in the language used in the verses in Genesis 2 against the language in chapter 3? Why do you think the writer explains from what materials Humankind was made? The Scriptures tell us from the very beginning that humanity was made by God, for God, and to reveal his glory in the world. There is careful time and attention put into the creation of humanity. At the same time, we are made simply from dust. From the ground. We are made from made material. There is a glorious fragility in humanity, even from the start. Being made from dust means that we are wholly dependant on our Maker for absolutely everything. We are completely out of control of our own existence. The sovereign Lord of the Universe makes and sustains all life. All breath. All things. There is a radical turn in the story in Genesis chapter 3. Mankind, which depends on their Creator for all things, turns against this perfect source of life, God himself, and decides to trust their own ways of thinking.
Sin is utterly ruinous. God’s declaration of the long-term effects of sin over Adam, Eve, and the serpent is dark, potent, and total. We are ruined.
Scripture Reading: Romans 5:12
Question for Reflection: What are some evidences of the “death that comes through sin” in our world? In your life personally? Can you think of ways the Church around the world has been corrupted by sin, both currently and historically?
Reckoning With Sin
All that is not right in this world, the things of which we are aware and that to which we are blind, is due to the ravaging effects of sin. Our beautiful, yet fragile existence that from the beginning wholly depended upon the Creator and Sustainer of all life is now deeply and comprehensively wrecked because of sin.
Ash Wednesday is designed to bring into focus our own mortality as human beings. Our own finitude. We are made for Glory as bearers of the Image of God, but our innate sin, inherited from Adam and Eve, catapults us into this world bent toward all the wrong things. We can’t help but sin. Even in our best attempts to find and create meaning, we transgress and we fall short. It’s not in our power to do otherwise, even in our best efforts (Genesis 4:1-15, Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:9-23, Ephesians 2:1-4, etc).
Because of sin, we are marked for death. There is a sense in which we wish to free our minds from this reality. It is the sense of adolescent naïveté that compels us to act as if disaster does not await us, and that our destiny is to live forever.
Ash Wednesday is an invitation to throw off youthful naïveté and reckon with our own fragility and brokenness. It’s an invitation to come to grips with the real world and our place in it. It is also an invitation to marvel at God’s gracious attention to us and love for us. To join with the Psalmist and say, “Who am I that you are mindful of me? The son of man that you would care for him?”(Psalm 8:4)
Look as the Psalmist asks for this kind of wisdom from the Lord:
Scripture Reading: Psalm 90:1-12
A “heart of wisdom” teaches us to see that our days are numbered and death is the great equalizer. Death came into the world through the sin one man, Adam. Therefore, all of the world lies in the dark brokenness of sin, deeply in need of rescue.
There is no reveling in thegood news of the gospel without first reckoning with the horrible depths of the effects of sin.
Glorying In Redemption
Scripture Reading: Romans 5:18-21, John 1:1-3
Into the bleakness of the condition of the world enters a blinding and beautiful light. A light that brings life, hope, and redemption. The darkness that came into the world and makes every human heartsick with sin cannot withstand the blazing of the light of Jesus, God in the flesh.
In the coming of Christ, sin does not have the final say. Death can’t claim this world as its own. Sin brings death, but Jesus brings life. Through one man, Adam came sin. And sin destroys. But redemption and life come into the world through the righteousness of one man, Jesus Christ.
This Jesus is our hope – he who lives forever, and whose resurrection proves he is making all things new.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which is a season of repentance and renewal. This is a season in which we are invited to confront the gravity of the sin in our hearts personally, corporately as a local community of faith, as well as to acknowledge the great effects of sin in the whole world.
Take some time to pray, both individually and in community with family and friends. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate to you the areas of sin in your life that need to be confessed and repented of in this season.
As you pray, consider this prayer adapted from the Book Of Common Prayer:
Most holy and merciful Father: We confess to you and to one another, and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth, that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed; by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven. Have mercy on us, Lord. We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives, We confess to you, Lord. Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people, We confess to you, Lord. Our anger at our own frustration and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves, We confess to you, Lord. Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work, We confess to you, Lord. Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord. Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, Accept our repentance, Lord. For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us, Accept our repentance, Lord. Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us; Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great. Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.