Ash Wednesday and What’s Wrong with the World

A cross-shaped window in a stone wall

An old post re-worked a bit and re-posted…

According to the Book of Common Prayer:

The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. …the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

According to Merriam-Webster, penitence “implies sad and humble realization of and regret for one’s misdeeds.”

We acknowledge that we’ve messed up. As the story goes, when G.K. Chesterton was asked “What’s wrong with the world?” his response was, “I am.”

I don’t know that penitence is ever very popular.  Can you see it taking hold on TV, or in the office, or even in our own hearts?

Despite its sad seriousness, I don’t believe that penitence makes us Eeyores wandering around under a cloud of guilt.  Since we are anticipating Easter, we know we have “grace greater than our sin.” But without penitence first, the joy of the Resurrection isn’t as sweet.

A prayer of penitence for Ash Wednesday

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(From the Book of Common Prayer)

Find the Daily Scripture Readings for Lent here.


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