Isaiah 51:11 The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Millions of Christians around the world will attend worship services to have the sign of the Cross placed upon their forehead using the ashes of last year’s Palm branches. They do this as an act of penance, beginning a forty day journey of humility and contrition, in order to prepare their hearts and souls, bodies and minds for Holy Week and Easter.
It’s also a time when self-importance gives way to a focus upon God. Self-centered sin is cast side, to be replaced with a deeply spiritual awareness of who Jesus was, is, and ever shall be.
Lent begins at 40. The ashes represent sorrow and shame. The forty days are symbolic of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness just before He began His incredible three year journey of preaching, teaching, and healing. The whole season of Lent is meant to bring us closer to God by aligning our thoughts and acts, our words and ways with those of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. If we are successful in maintaining this focus, then Holy Week and Easter will become incredible too.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we begin this forty day journey of Lent, be with us step by step and day by day. Allow us the blessing of Your presence and guidance over everything that we think, do, or say. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to email@example.com.
Today’s image is a bulletin cover designed by John for Lent and/or Holy Week. It is called “Purple Reign.” If you would like to view a larger version of the drawing, please click on the following link: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7050/6913397537_14e0996d59_b.jpg