Ash Wednesday is the end of Carnival Season and the beginning of our reflection on our lives. It is also spring cleaning time. Carnivals and Mardi Gras are fun and everyone has a great, exuberant time, but when they leave it feels like a storm has hit the area. There are messes everywhere. This is a good place also where we can assess the mess our lives are and begin the clean-up. We can say with the Psalmist:
Have mercy on me, 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! -Psalm 51:1-2
This Scripture makes me think about how after a storm, the wind and rain make such a mess of my backyard. There are broken branches everywhere, and everything is soaked. But also after a good storm, the air is clean and I can see the Sierras with their snow-capped mountains. There is a clear light in which God’s creation is revealed and the clean-up begins.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. -Psalm 51:10-12
Normally when my wife and I know spring is coming, we start to clean the yard. I trim the fruit trees and prepare them for the blossoms. I prepare the ground and cast the grass and wild flower seed. We harvest the lemons. My wife trims the roses. We begin the renewing.
Similarly, Lent is our time to prepare for absolution. We have five weeks to reflect and prepare, and then entering into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the start of Passion Week. During this week, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins and celebrate the joy of his resurrection.
On Ash Wednesday, we begin the creation of a clean heart. We confess that we need help for things we have done and left undone, for things we know we have done and things we have done that we do not know. We repent, turn our lives around with a true heart. We realize our lives are being restored. We become happy through the freedom that Christ gives us. We trim the fat so we can concentrate with a willing spirit.
So as we move through Ash Wednesday this month, let us reflect and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
Scott Rowley is a Lutheran Lay Minister serving in Senior Adult Ministry. Scott holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Asian Philosophy from San Jose State University. He received his Masters of Arts Degree in Old Testament from Fresno Pacific University Biblical Seminary (previously Fresno Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary). He is described as an Old Testament Theologian.