Ash Wednesday Reflection

Layperson Lecture #4.1

On Fat Tuesday, I posted about Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent 2020. In that post, I wrote about the importance of taking care of ourselves as we consider our Lenten fasts and practices, quoting, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” from Matthew 9:13.

Though not in the Lectionary selections for Ash Wednesday, we read Psalm 51 responsively as part of the liturgy last night. Verse 17 struck me as supporting my idea of being gentle with ourselves and our sacrifices:

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

I get the feeling this was supposed to relate to the Ash Wednesday Gospel reading, about avoiding outward signs of piety for the sake of being noticed. It’s like saying to G0D, “Notice me, Senpai!” I think this is confirmed by verses 18 and 19 of Psalm 51 where it says if we’re doing the right things, G0D will truly notice our piety.

But, I also took Psalm 51:17 as a reminder that the most important sacrifice we can make to G0D is to offer ourselves as we are: perfectly imperfect.