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The Significance of Ash Wednesday

Read this slowly. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin, and be faithful to Christ..”

These words are pronounced in the sombre dim of flickering candlelight, while a priest or pastor marks the sign of a cross on the foreheads of penitent faithful with black ashes. It is a symbol of my mortality, a sign that my life is as fleeting as shadows cast around the walls. A reminder that it is by grace alone that I receive eternal life in Jesus Christ our Saviour.

As the service ends, the believers walk out with their candles into the night, the sign of the cross imposed with ashes marked on their foreheads for all to see. Simultaneously an imprint of sin, and proclamation of its Gospel solution.

Thus, Christians have traditionally marked the first day of Lent, which we know as Ash Wednesday. The beginning of 40 days of introspection, self-examination and reflection, just as Jesus spent 40 days tempted in the wilderness — a fitting preparation leading up to remembrance of the Cross.

Lord, give us true repentance;
forgive us our sins of negligence and ignorance
and our deliberate sins;
and grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit
to amend our lives according to your holy word.

Holy God,
holy and strong,
holy and immortal,
have mercy upon us.

In the Ash Wednesday liturgy, there are extensive call and response segments as the leader calls the congregation to reflect on their sins and confess them to God. One poignant segment begins with “Let us now call to mind our sin, and the infinite mercy of God,” which opens an extended response of “Have mercy upon us” and “Good Lord, deliver us.”

We do well to reflect on some of these calls, not just in light of our personal sin, but as we face the grievous hurt that our collective sin has inflicted on the world.

Consider the Ukraine crisis.
Consider the corrupting influence of modern capitalism.
Consider the drug abuse crisis.
Consider social oppression and economic injustice.
Consider how human actions are destroying God’s good world.
Consider the darkness of your own heart.

From all evil and mischief;
From pride, vanity, and hypocrisy;
From envy, hatred, and malice;
And from all evil intent,
Good Lord, deliver us

God the Father,
God the Son,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity,
Have mercy upon us

Ash Wednesday calls us to reflection, repentance, and renewal of commitment to Christ who conquered sin and death. Together with the Church worldwide, we pray:

God our Father,
The strength of all who put their trust in you,
Mercifully accept our prayers;
And because, in our weakness,
We can do nothing good without you,
Grant us the help of your grace,
That in keeping your commandments
We may please you, both in will and deed
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
Exodus 3:1-10; 4:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9-10
Thu, 7 July 2022

Seeing Our Work as Sacred

Observation:

From today’s verses, what significant observations can you make about the calling and resources of God’s representatives to the world?

Deeper Reflection
FINDING MEANING, REST AND JOY IN OUR WORK HAS GOT a lot to do with Christians’ ministry in the marketplace and the task of discipling Singapore. It is only when we have recognised and dealt with the inner life issues pertaining to the paradigms regarding our work that we can have the right perspectives and postures to influence the marketplace and society that God has placed us in. For we reproduce after our own kind. We want to reproduce the right kind of disciples – a Christlike kind!However, we must not neglect the outer life to which God has also called us, that is, a life of ministry and service to others for the sake of Christ. In our God-given vocation, wherever God has placed us in His service, we are to use whatever God has given us in order to accomplish His will. Wherever we are. We remember that the great prophet Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. But let us not forget that Moses’ commissioning took place amid the daily mundane course of his work.17 So lest we think that our daily vocations are insignificant, remember that wherever we are, God calls us for His purposes.Whatever we have. At times, we may feel that the skills in our workplace have little to do with extending God’s Kingdom. But look at how God used the simple staff of Moses to perform mighty miracles in His name.18 So never underestimate the training and experience that your work gives to you, for God is using even these to accomplish His will.
17 When God called Moses, he was tending sheep for his father-in-law, Jethro (and for the past 40 years too!): see Acts 7:20-34. 18 Exodus 4:17; 7-10; 14.
Application:

How do I see the significance of my work in connection with God’s calling for my life and His Church?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for Outreach/Missions/New Life leaders: To use the opportunities and resources that God gives them through their work to reach the wider society and world
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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