I was “raised in church.” I was born on a Sunday, and the next Sunday, I was in the pew, frilly dress and all. My parents stressed the importance of living biblically, helping the least of these, and following Christ. I accepted Christ at the ripe old age of 5, and was baptized on a Sunday morning in July. Since that sunny July morning, my walk with Christ has been a wonderful life-changing decision, but I’m not perfect. I am a sinner, and it took a simple Ash Wednesday service to remind me of this fact.
I come from a conservative, Evangelical tradition that is very closely aligned to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We do not recognize Ash Wednesday or Lent, not necessarily because we think it’s wrong to do so, but mostly because it doesn’t register as “important” to us. As a result, I have never attended an Ash Wednesday service until today. Since my arrival on my college’s campus, I have been introduced to many friends from different traditions in the Christian faith. With new friends come new ways of worshipping the Lord.
Today was a prime example.
Today I realized that I was a sinner. Yes, I know the Bible says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” but I don’t always see myself as a “big sinner.” I mostly dabble in the “little sins.” You can draw your own conclusions. However, during the service, the speaker reminded the audience that we are sinners, but through the grace of God, Jesus came as a man to save us from ourselves. After the sermon and the readings of scripture, I was “ashed” and told that I was made from dust, and I will return to dust. Not only am I a sinner, but I am going to die. A sobering realization.
Though the day is not over, the few hours of wearing a cross of ash on my forehead has changed my behavior. I have thought twice before speaking and I have monitored my actions. Because I am wearing a mark of Christ on my body for everyone to see, I do not want to cause someone to disregard Jesus due to my bad behavior. Though I cannot wear an ashy cross every day of my life, I can pray for a spirit of humility, engage in self-monitoring, and ask God to forgive me when I fall (because I will).
I am a sinner, and I have failed God. However, through the Lord Jesus Christ, I have new life and peace that only He can give. May we all remember this not only today and during Lent, but for the whole year.
Have a blessed Ash Wednesday.