So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:3
A bright light glowed in our front window after midnight, waking us. The building across the road was on fire; huge flames leapt into the black sky. The volunteer firefighters tried to put it out, but the fire defeated them, restarting over and over again through the darkness. The power of the fire was inhuman, unstoppable, and absolutely destructive. The sound of crackling flames, burning wood, and breaking glass filled the night.
The building––an empty store––smoldered for days, its ashy gray smoke rising from the pile of rubble. We lived with ashes even longer. They blew in through the windows, the door, even the cracks of our house and settled everywhere. For days, we tasted their gritty metal.
Ashes, the symbol of destruction and death, are not a pretty stained glass image, yet with ashes we begin our Lenten journey. As the pastor draws the cross of ash on our foreheads, we are reminded of death–Christ’s and ours. Living with the ashes and ruins of the fire reminded us daily of life’s fragility and failure. So, too, Lent’s ashes remind us of our own frailness and failures. We have no hope, no future, no restoration in ourselves.
In the cross of ashes, we remember our utter dependence on the one whose journey to the cross we recall these 40 days. Ashes remind us that nothing on earth lasts. Wearing ashes, we reach out in faith to Jesus, who promises forgiveness and life everlasting.
Prayer: Almighty God, may the ashes we wear today bring us to repentance and renewal in Your redeeming love through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Response: How will you bring the Lord into your Lent?
(Devotions from "Cross of Ashes" by Christine Weerts, a Lenten devotional provided by Lutheran Hour Ministries. Copyright 2005, Int'l LLL. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend.)