Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017                                          Psalm 51:1-14

Psalm 51:1-7    English Standard Version (ESV)

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51 Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgement.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

The portion of scripture is known as a penitential psalm in which David confesses his sin with Bathsheba in an intensely personal lament over his sin. His words are used in the church’s liturgy. Vv. 10-12 in the Offertory, v. 15 in the opening sentences of Matins and Vespers and as the Introit for Ash Wednesday. David not only explains  sin and its deadly consequences as powerfully present in all people, but he also unfolds God’s re-creative mercy as He works repentance and forgiveness. The format of this psalm; Vv. 1-2 an opening appeal for mercy; Vv. 3-6 a confession of sin, v.7 a prayer for cleansing. [1]

The first part of confession is that we confess, that is, we acknowledge, our sin. Luther reminds us, “When I urge you to go to Confession, I am doing nothing else than urging you to be a Christian.”[2]

To be a Christian is to acknowledge our need of forgiveness. Especially on this day, Ash Wednesday, we should be cognizant and much aware of our need for God’s forgiveness. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

The Lenten season is upon us once again, O Lord God, and we come to You with the sign of ashes, and the sign of what we are and what we have been. With repentant hearts, we come to You, begging You for forgiveness and life.[3]

Almighty God, you have created me out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to me a sign of my mortality and penitence that I may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ my Savior. Amen[4]

Savior, the season of Lent is upon us. You have directed us to come imploring- crying out in Your Father’s name. As we have experienced the Father’s mercy and love, which You earned for us, may we demonstrate this same mercy with others especially those who do not yet know You for You demand both mercy as well as sacrifice from those who would bear Your name.[5]

[1] The Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St Louis
[2] Appendix B, Brief Exhortation 32
[3] Taken from the CPH Lenten Series Don’t Be Afraid © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

No comments: