Day One: Ash Wednesday
John 1:1-18 (ESV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Isaiah 1:2- 20 (ESV)
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” 4 Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. 5 Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil. 7 Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. 9 If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. 12 “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? 13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations– I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
In the midst of darkness and destruction, is there hope? When the world around us looks crazy and out of control, is there hope? When every new day seems to bring new challenges, is there hope? Brokenness scares us because we believe things cannot be put back together. We are taught it from an early age. And even if they do get repaired, they are never “as good as new.” Ash Wednesday reminds us of our sin. It reminds us of our brokenness and frailty. It is good to be confronted in this way. It is good to be reminded that we cannot understand the Light of Christ and that our human attempts are rejected. It is also good to hear the reminder that we can be born of God, made more new than even new. That we can be made clean; that we receive grace upon grace. All is not lost, there is hope! The midnight hour will pass and the light will begin to peak out in the dawn. The sorrow will be made joy. We will see the Glory of God. God will teach us how to pursue Him. He will wash us and guide us toward justice.
Father, we know that our attempts to please you fail. We do not understand the light on our own. We want to possess it instead of being possessed by it. We want our work, our history, our striving to count for something. We are estranged, but you break in and shine light even more. You make us your children. You wash us and make us clean. You change us so that we can be obedient in response to your love not as a way to can it. You redeem us. We thank you Jesus for being fully of grace and truth; thank you making a way for us. Move in us today to show us how we have been made new. Pour your hope into our lives. Spirit, enable us to cling to the truth of the Gospel; that we are now children of God. Amen
Over the first part of this Lenten season hide John 1:1-18 in your heart. Read over it, write it out, and listen to it. Do not do this in order to gain acceptance from God but do it as worship. We receive grace and truth through Christ. Let these verses become a reminder/sermon to you about who you are in Christ. You are a Child of God by His own making