Ash Wednesday - a time of confession and grace

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is a day of repentance that marks the beginning of the Lenten season for the western Christian churches. Today, many Christians will go to church and receive the mark of a cross on their foreheads. This mark is made up of ashes burned from the palm leaves used in last year's Palm Sunday celebration. It is a meaningful practice to mark the beginning of Lent - the six weeks before Easter. Lent is a time of contemplation, sacrifice, and yearning for the resurrection of the Lord and of our hearts.

The Eastern Churches also celebrate Lent, of course. In those traditions, it is referred to as "Great Lent." They do not, however, observe Ash Wednesday, according to the Wikipedia article on Great Lent.

Here are some verses that may serve as an encouragement today as you confess your sins before the Lord. May you receive his loving embrace and forgiveness.

Isaiah 1: 16 - 20

Wash and make yourselves clean.

Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;

plead the case of the widow.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

I John 1: 9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.