As you likely know, Ash Wednesday begins our Lenten journey, it's a significant day in the life of the Church. This Ash Wednesday allow yourself to think about these next 40 days of reflection, prayer and fasting, seeking Jesus and journeying with Him and each other. What will they hold for you? How will they change you?
Hopefully you can find an Ash Wednesday service to attend, it is always a meaningful time of worship and reflection. There is also part of the Ash Wednesday liturgy in the Lent book. Hopefully this is a helpful devotional piece for you. Come back to it from time to time, when things are difficult and you want to give up on your disciplines, remind yourself why you're on this journey in the first place.
FROM DUST WE HAVE COME TO DUST WE SHALL RETURN
Here is a picture of my son Jack, this was his 1st Lent.
Think about the truth of the words “from dust you have come, to dust you will return” and how those words are just as true for a new born baby as they are for a 90 year old man. Maybe different depth but same truth.
“From dust you have come, to dust you will return."
Here's a fitting scripture to ponder this Ash Wednesday...
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar."
I always wondered where they get all those ashes on Ash Wednesday. A few of years ago, someone finally told me that they burn the palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service.
Maybe I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I didn’t know that for a long time. The palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service are burned, made into ashes and smeared on the foreheads of those needing to remember “from dust you have come and to dust you will return.”
I guess now the question is, “Where do all those Midwesterners get palm tree branches?”
I pray that this Ash Wednesday is a deep and meaningful start to your Lenten experience.
Grace and peace
I love this prayer and think it’s a great prayer as we begin our Lenten journey.
Let it sink deep into your life and be a centering praying on your journey!
The link above is to an Experiential Lenten Calendar i’ve had floating around my computer for a few years. A very cool idea that Mars Hill Bible Church put together for their community awhile back. I thought of it because the Children’s ministry at Christ Church Plano does something very similar for our kids. I thought I would share both and let you use them with your family or community.
Here's the kids version... CHILDREN'S EXPERIENTIAL LENT CALENDAR
I especially like the collect for this, the 1st Sunday in Lent.
It’s pretty much a little prayer that I think is fitting for the beginning of our Lenten journey.
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan; Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
And here's are a couple worship tunes to top it off…
CRI / The Voice website — This is a resource site, they post the lectionary and other daily Bible readings. You can also get good articles on liturgy, theology and other helpful topics.
Vanderbilt Divinity School posts a really clean and easy version of the lectionary that might be helpful for your Sunday and weekly scripture readings.
There are also some great phone & iPad apps that i have found helpful.
Here are the two i use the most. I’ll share more in following days and weeks.
#1. BCP for the iPhone or iPad — This is a great app that contains the entire Book of Common prayer. The daily office and Sunday lectionary readings (daily and weekly readings) are essentially the home page to the app. This makes it really easy to always have your daily Bible reading with you.
#2. YouVersion — this is a Bible app you can get on pretty much any mobile or tablet platform. It allows you to download different versions of the Bible right onto your phone. I have used it for the Bible reading plans they have. They even have Lent reading plans you can check out.
As mentioned, the Sunday readings in your book are for year B of the Revised Common Lectionary.
The best place to find all of these years & readings listed are CRI / The Voice website
The Church Year begins with Advent in November/December.
Here is a quick look at the breakdown of years from the Revised Common Lectionary.
Click on the year below to take you to the Sunday readings you are looking for.
Year A: 2016-2017, 2019-2020
Year B: 2017-2018; 2020-2021
Year C: 2015-2016; 2018-2019