Wednesday, February 26 – Matthew 4:1-11

“Merry Ash Wednesday!”

Hmmm. Have you wondered what is an appropriate greeting for this day? After all, it is the beginning of a 40-day Lenten journey of spiritual preparation before Easter. But “Merry” Ash Wednesday? To be sure some still continue the partying of yesterday’s Mardi Gras, but today isn’t about merrymaking.

“Happy Ash Wednesday!”

Not really a happy day either. Ash Wednesday is more about ashes and remembering our mortality — “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Not generally a happy thought, but an important one to ponder on this day.
“Have a Holy Ash Wednesday!”

“Holy” is a good word. After all Ash Wednesday is a Holy day set aside as unique. What makes Ash Wednesday distinctive is that on this day we resolve to begin living differently for the next 40 days. How will you dedicate this season to walking daily with God and worshiping weekly with God’s people?

So what is an appropriate greeting for this day? Merry? Happy? Holy? Truthfully, the good news of this day is not in the salutations we share, but in the salvation that we have already experienced through God’s mercy. Our focus is not so much on the spiritual disciplines that we do – or do not do – but remembering what has already been done for us in Christ Jesus.

May your Lenten walk be truly meaningful as you draw closer to God and closer to one another; and on this day, may your Ash Wednesday be a heavenly reminder that God is with you always – in this earthly life and in the life that reunites us all.

Prayer: We greet you this Ash Wednesday, O God, confessing our faults and short-comings, and recognizing our need for your grace and mercy. In these next 40 days, may we walk more closely with you and your people, even as we re-dedicate our heart, soul, and mind to you. Amen.

Stephen Gentle

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