Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

DAY 2: February 18, 2021                                        Thursday after Ash Wednesday- Joel 2:12-17

…rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Joel 2:13

The Lord requires a change of the heart not merely an outward show. The Psalmist reminds us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 
Especially in Lent we come before our Lord confessing our sin with actions of true repentance. We take responsibility for our sin. We come with genuine and authentic sorrow regretting what we have done. We make attempts to fix or repair that which we have broken. Then there is an actual change in our words and behavior. When we follow these steps; taking responsibility, displaying remorse, making strides to repair and moving forward to repeat not – we are making legitimate strides toward repentance.
Yet one step, an important step, is necessary in our recovery which is the reconciliation we receive from Jesus our Savior. Christ is gracious and merciful. It is His nature to forgive. Christ forgives because of who He is. He is that suffering servant, that Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.
Instead of giving us what we deserve, God has shown His compassion. To receive grace is to receive a gift you do not deserve, God's riches at Christ's expense. To receive mercy is not having to endure the punishment we each deserve. The psalmist reminds us of this reality when we read; 
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted; He saves the contrite in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18 
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  -Psalm 147:3 
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard." -Psalm 102:17 
He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.” - Psalm 22:24
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with Your most gracious favor, and further us with Your continual help; that in all our works begun continued, and ended in You, we may glorify Your holy Name, and, finally, by Your mercy, obtain everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.[2]
Lord Jesus, Holy One of God, You showed that the kingdom of God had come by Your healing the sick and casting out demons. Heal us in both body and soul by the medicine of immortality of Your body and blood that we may truly be Your disciples; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[3]

[1] Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2]Collect for Thursday after Ash Wednesday,
[3] Collect for Thursday after Ash Wednesday Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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