God is with us in Word and Sacrament

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

  • Old Test: Joel 2:12-19
  • Epistle: 2 Cor. 5:20-6:10
  • Gospel: Matt. 6:1-21

“Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people” (Joel 2:15–16). Lent, with its corporate fast, begins today. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Imposition of Ashes, from Gen. 3:19). “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger” (Jonah 3:9). We know. Faith believes that, for Christ’s sake, “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). He is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13); therefore, we do not hesitate to return to Him “with all [our] heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (v. 12). He raises the dead, as we shall see in 40 days’ time. Satan opposes such reconciliation and life. He would twist our discipline into self-serving pride (Matt. 6:1–12), leading us into unbelief and unfruitfulness until we fall from the Lord’s “precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4, 8). For this reason, our Lenten discipline not only gives something up but also takes up the sustenance and exercise of faith: hearing His Word and turning from ourselves—to God in prayer and to our neighbor with charity. “Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (v. 5–7).


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