S (Scripture): Psalm 51:
You don’t want sacrifices.
If I gave an entirely burned offering,
you wouldn’t be pleased.
A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God.
You won’t despise a heart, God, that is broken and crushed.
O (Observation): The psalmist realizes that no amount of offering will please God. Rather, the focus is on being contrite – being honest with one’s own brokenness and admitting that self to God.
A (Application): Admitting our brokenness means that God has an entry point into our lives. When we lie to ourselves and make believe all is well, we are essentially telling God that we are just fine (yeah, right) and no change is needed.
On Ash Wednesday, today, in many churches, we will gather in our worship spaces to recognize that our lack, our brokenness is what binds us together. God knows this lack, for Jesus was on the cross, knowing what it means to feel separation from God.
In that loss, we have room for God to enter our being, and remind us that while we will be returning to the dust, we can rest assured that our rest is Christ.
So, we mark ashes on our foreheads, but always in the shape of the cross.
A cross of ashes.
Death and new life.
P (Prayer): Lord, help me to make room for you! Amen.