Here is today's message for Ash Wednesday.


For most of the world around us,…today is noted for being Valentine’s Day.
There have been tons of commercials and attention to the day of ‘love’.
It’s not the love Jesus talked about, but the romantic kind that some find in life.
Yet, for many people, this kind of ‘love’ relationship does not exist.
It is nice to find and have that romance, but I think it is more rare than common.

Ash Wednesday is a day Christian people focus on a more realistic part of life.
To ponder how much we lack a good relationship with God in our lives.
And a day to think a bit more about how we have let God down.
In both things done wrong as well as things done right we’ve not bothered to do.

It’s not a popular day in the Church year;…not like Christmas or Easter, where the celebratory mood overflows in our worship service and the world around us.
And its certainly not as popular as Valentine’s Day, but it is an important day for us.

For one thing,….today brings us back to the reality of life and who we truly are.
It moves us from the false concepts we are fed to a humble place as we face our faults.
But secondly, it also reminds us that there is someone who loves us all the time.
Its not a love that sends us roses or chocolates or cards with hearts on them.
But a love who sends us Jesus and the promise to love us no matter what.
Loves and forgives us no matter what we have done wrong or failed to do right.

Our reading from the prophet Joel gives us the following theme for Ash Wednesday -
Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend you hearts and not your clothing.   
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.”

That says it all and sums it up.
What this means is that God loves and forgives us when we mess up in life.
God hates when we cheat on our taxes,…. but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we cheat on our spouse,…. but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we lie to other people,….. but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we lie to ourselves and say we have no sin,…. but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we ignore him and put other things above him,…. but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we ignore those close to us who need us,…. but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we’re envious or jealous of what others have,…. but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we’re more about impressing others than God,…but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we are excessively critical of others,…. but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we are too critical of ourselves,….  but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we are too cheap to share what we have,…. but God loves and forgives us.
God hates when we spend foolishly while others go without,….but God loves and forgives us.

The list can go on and on.
I don't know if any of these tapped a nerve within you but, if not, look at the list again and think about it.
My guess is that most of these, apply to us all at one time or another.
In some way shape or form,…. we are all guilty in disappointing God.

But I am even more confident that, as we repent and ask for pardon,….God forgives.
The bible continually tells us so and Jesus continually told us so.
In fact, wanting to make sure that we had a sure fire way to God’s love and forgiveness,
Jesus went to the cross and died, that we might be forgiven forever.
Not just for one or two particular offense, but for all and for always.
So that when we do turn into dust,….. we will also turn towards and find that love and forgiveness.

Amen