Day 2: Thursday, February 23, 2023
Rev. Sela Finau
Scripture: By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken;
you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19 NRSV)
Devotion: Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a season of repentance and reflection in the Christian church. This day is marked by the practice of receiving ashes on the forehead, which are typically made by burning the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The ashes symbolize mortality and remind us that we are but dust; to dust, we shall return.
The practice of receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday dates back to the 8th century, but Christians have observed the season of Lent since the early days of the Church. Lent is 40 days, mirroring the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and praying before beginning his ministry. During this time, Christians are called to focus on prayer, fasting, and acts of charity to draw closer to God and prepare their hearts for Easter.
In the book of Joel, we read the call to repentance at the heart of the Lenten season. Joel 2:12-13 says, “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” The ashes on our foreheads are a visible sign of our desire to turn away from sin and towards God, to repent and receive the grace and forgiveness that he offers us through Jesus Christ.
Prayer: God, as we begin this season of Lent, help us as we reflect on our lives and draw closer to you by seeking your will and mercy. Amen