Ash Wednesday – March 6, 2019 –Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
On Ash Wednesday, people all over the world will receive ashes, beginning a forty-day period the Christian tradition calls Lent.
Lent is really a journey that takes all of us to a beautiful destination -- resurrection morning -- but before we can get there, we have to journey, and we have to journey with our sin, the sin that eventually caused Christ shame, torture, and death. Ash Wednesday focuses on the brevity of life and reminds us that we came from dust and will soon enough return back to the earth, dust once more.
It was Martin Luther who said of Psalm 51, “A knowledge of this psalm is necessary and useful in many ways. It contains instruction about the chief parts of our religion, about repentance, sin, grace, and justification, as well as about the worship we ought to render to God. These are divine and heavenly doctrines. Unless they are taught by the great Spirit, they cannot enter the heart of man.” 
Today the journey begins. The process of reconciliation, renewal, and restoration this season offers us begins with brokenness, repentance, and hope which will rise out of the ashes. 
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. 
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 
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. 
1. Martin Luther, Selected Psalms, in Luther’s Works, vols. 12-14 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1974-1976), 12:305.
3. Taken from the CPH Lenten Series Don’t Be Afraid © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO
4. Collect for Ash Wednesday http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
5.Collect for Ash Wednesday, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm