Maybe you’ve seen them already.
Those strange people walking around with sooty smudges on their foreheads. Have you wondered what that’s about? Those people have received the Imposition of Ashes. Ashes historically have been connected with repentance, that is, sorrow over sin.
This is a biblical tradition. People put on ashes to show that they’re repented, sorry for their sins. Well why have they done it on this day?
Well today is Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent and Lent is a season of repentance. Lent is a time that we prepare for the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior by contemplating our guilt. Now Lent isn’t about beating ourselves up, Lent is about growing in appreciation for what Jesus has done for us.
In Isaiah we read what Jesus would come to do.
Bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
When you see your sins God doesn’t want you to despair. When you see your guilt God doesn’t want you overwhelmed. He wants you to turn to Jesus. He sent Jesus to take away your guilt. He sent Jesus to wipe away the tears that your sins have caused you. He sent Jesus so that you could be glad that God loves you and that you will be in heaven.
So use this Lent to reflect on what Jesus has done to save you from your sins so that he can anoint you with the oil of gladness. Amen.