Hymn of the Week
Sunday’s Palms Are Wednesday’s Ashes
Text: Rae E. Whitney
Click the link to listen:
I learned something interesting last year on Ash Wednesday that I somehow missed all the years before. Did you know that if you get a cross of ashes on your forehead today, the ashes are from the burnt leaves of Palm Sunday? I love stuff like this, so I saved the palm branch my daughter waved in church last year, and let it dry for several weeks. Then, I took it out on the front step and burned it.
|Raya putting a cross on Daddy’s forehead|
Lent is not about behavior modification or mustering up enough will power to finally be a better person. Even though I do plan to give something up and add a special prayer time into my day, Lent is not about what we do to change ourselves. It’s about surrendering our lives to God who is the only one who can bring about real change in our lives. One of the readings you might hear at Ash Wednesday services today is from Joel 2:12…
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and 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.
The hymn for today is perfect for Ash Wednesday. It’s actually one of those very specific hymns that’s really only appropriate for Ash Wednesday. As we name the ways we have sinned against God and each other, we bring them out into the light. We ask for forgiveness, and we come to the only one who can grant it. The cross of ashes on our foreheads brings us back from self-reliance and self-righteousness and reminds us that God is the giver of life and the source of all mercy, grace and forgiveness.