Ash Wednesday

March 1, 2017


Text:  2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Joel 2:1-2, 12-17


    Today we once again enter into the season of Lent, that time in the Christian year when we once again consider our mortality and the brokenness of our relationships with God and each other, and address these things by preparing for the observance of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection through self-examination, prayer, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines.

    Because our relationships are broken, we need to be reconciled to God, as the Apostle Paul urges us to do.  This reconciliation is possible because Christ, who knew no sin, took our sin upon himself on the cross, and defeated the powers of sin and death by rising from the dead.  

    Paul regarded this as an urgent matter.  He quotes Isaiah 49:8, where God says through the prophet:  “I listened to you at the right time, and I helped you on the day of salvation.”  Paul then continues, “Look, now is the right time!  Look, now is the day of salvation!”  Paul sees no value in delaying, for God’s salvation is available to us even now through Jesus Christ.

    Now is the time of salvation.  But it is always now, isn’t it?  Salvation is not only something that happened sometime in the past or will happen sometime in the future.  It is a present event.  And it is something we continue to need, because throughout our lives we continue to deal with the brokenness in ourselves and in our world, the brokenness in our relationship with God and in our relationships with one another.  There never comes a point in this earthly life where we move beyond the need for God’s saving love.  Each of us continues to need it each and every day.  Now is the time of salvation.  It’s always now.

    So, “yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow; tear your hearts and not your clothing.  Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.”  This is the good news we continue to proclaim.  This is the salvation God offers to us.  Now is the time of salvation.  It’s always now.

    As we receive the sign of the ashes, let us also receive the assurance of God’s mercy and forgiveness.  Let us seek healing for the places and relationships in our lives that are broken.  Let us turn away from the sins that continue to beset us and turn to God.  Now is the time of salvation.  It’s always now.  Amen.

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