Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent – a period of six weeks of preparation for Easter. Many Christians attend church today and have their foreheads marked with ash – a Biblical symbol of repentance. The ash comes from last year’s Palm Crosses. During Lent many Christians fast or abstain from certain foodstuffs – a tradition most seen now in Orthodox Christianity.
The 16th century Reformers didn’t object to fasting but didn’t think it should be imposed on everyone nor did they want people to think that fasting made God more likely to forgive them. Instead, they taught that fasting should be a sign of sorrow not a means of earning forgiveness. Famously Ulrich Zwingli started the Reformation in Zurich by refusing to condemn people eating sausages in Lent.
Around the world Christians, today, are focussing on turning their lives around, turning away from sin and towards grace. Later on this morning we will be sending out a service which could be listened to at any point today but we thought his prayer might be a nice way to mark the day.
We come to You, O Most High, with the tang of ash in our mouths and lives, conscious of our sins, tasting as bitter wormwood: the times we’ve failed to love, the times we’ve failed to act, the times we’ve failed to apologise, all drag us down and haunt our minds.
We remember the times when we’ve hated our bodies, when we’ve denied ourselves for no good reason, for when we’ve not used our resources wisely causing others to fast due to poverty not passion.
Give us the time and grace, Most High, to turn around, to rise from our ashes and be created anew, to find direction despite our stumbling, and to make our ashen lives an offering to You. Amen
Have a joyous Lent!
The Rev’d Andy Braunston Minister for Digital Worship