Sackcloth & ashes are mentioned a number of times throughout the Holy Scriptures, especially in the Old Testament. Used as a sign of grief, repentance, and humility, sackcloth was often worn on the body, with the ashes marked on the head and sat upon. Both of these were considered an outward sign of the recognition of the condition which dwells within us – SIN. In wearing these, the hope was that God might “relent” from His punishment as the hearts of the people were truly desiring His forgiveness. As we enter the season of Lent, which is marked by Ash Wednesday, we focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (charitable giving). In many ways, our focus is similar to the use of sackcloth & ashes. We recognize that we are sinners, that we need forgiveness, and that we cannot earn that forgiveness by our own works. Instead, our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is meant to be an outward sign of the recognition of the condition with dwells within us – SIN. We approach the throne of grace with confidence in the saving work of Jesus and we rely solely on the mercy and grace of God, which He offers in Himself for us. Of course, because of the gracious loving-kindness that we receive from God, He works in us so that our faithful disciplines would also continue His transformative work, bringing the outward sign to make an inward – Spiritual – impact. Together then, we give thanks to God that He allows us to live in the season of repentance and preparation, readying ourselves for the remembrance of the Passion of our Lord Jesus and the Easter promise that fulfills the words of King David: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11).
Mercy & peace be yours in Jesus,
[PS- We hope that you will join us throughout the year, every Sunday at 10:30AM and during the season of Lent, Wednesdays at 7PM (beginning March 6 and ending April 10).]