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Ash Wednesday

As we enter the season of Lent, we read a devotion from Sacred Head, Now Wounded: Resources for Lent–Easter Preaching and Worship.

Scripture Readings

Joel 2:12–19
Psalm 51
2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10
Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21

Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.

Introduction

This day in the Church Year offers us a chance to reflect on the depth of our sin, the severity of the consequences that sin deserves, and the boundless mercy our Lord pours on us. May He use this day to work true repentance in our hearts and comfort us with the Gospel.

Devotional Reading

Hear in this sacred season [God’s] summons to you to come back to Him, to return to Him now. He does not want some piece of you, some outward display, torn garments and such, a few minutes tossed His way one day a week. No. He wants you, your heart. Hence, rend your hearts!

“A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). A heart that is rent, torn open, is a heart that is wounded, damaged, broken. Such a heart God receives from you as a pleasing sacrifice. . . . Lent is not for pretend sinners. Lent is for real, honest-to-God sinners who have failed in their love of God, who have failed in their love of neighbor, who see this reality, and who by God’s grace despise their sin and ache for His forgiveness and for strength to do better. To such the invitation rings out as sheer refreshment: “Even you, even now: Return!” Return, and see the sacred head of Your Savior now wounded. This is the One we are summoned to return to. He is the one who knew that we, on our own, could not come to Him, return to Him, find Him; so He came to us, returned to us, and found us. . . .

It is a marvel indeed that the God of Israel, Yahweh, should take on flesh and blood—as He did in the incarnation. That is enough to leave us astounded forever. But He went further. Not only did He take on our flesh and blood, not only did He become dust for us, but He also went so far as to lift off from us the burden of our sin, to bear it in His own body to death, to own all our failures to live in love as His very own. Indeed, in the words of St. Paul: “He, who knew no sin,” became sin for us “so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He not only died, but He also died as the greatest sinner of all time, with the sin of the world upon Him—all of it. Yours. Mine. Everyone’s. Thus the Lord revealed that He is indeed merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Look to the cross and see! He bore your sin to death that neither death nor sin might be the end of you. Such is the measure of His love.

Prayer

O Lord our God, . . . as Your dear Son was wounded for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed, let us daily meditate upon His Passion with true repentance and sincere faith, that His death may be our life, His righteousness our salvation, His conflict our victory and everlasting peace. Replenish us with Your Holy Spirit that, loving You with our whole hearts, we may walk by faith according to Your Word, blameless in Your sight. Amen.

Devotional reading and prayer are from Sacred Head, Now Wounded: Resources for Lent–Easter Preaching and Worship, pages 10–11, 108 © 2009 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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