Lenten Devotional: Ash Wednesday | Luke 18:9-14

Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022 | Luke 18:9-14

The Rev. Bonnie-Marie Yager-Wiggan

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” these are the words spoken while ashes are imposed across our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite days in the church year because it reminds me that I am not God (and I need that reminder more than I like to admit.) I do not control my destiny. And I can’t control other people’s destinies. No manner of good works will redeem me or account me good by my own effort. There is no number of good sermons I could preach that will erase my own need for God’s grace. 

Too often I find my inner self like the Pharisee, counting off all the ways I think I should be justified and counted righteous. But on Ash Wednesday, that sooty cross on my forehead reminds me of my immense human frailty–the dust I will return to–and calls me to the humility of the tax collector. It calls me to humility that invites us into reality to the full. The humility that ushers us into the presence of God. 

The call and gift of Ash Wednesday and Lent are to once again open our hearts, minds, and imaginations to the Word of God, to prayer, to liturgy, to community in faith and hope that we will be made anew again on the pilgrim journey. It is an invitation to become fully alive, fully human rather than simply grossly, abysmally, self-centered. And we become more fully human when we acknowledge that we are not God. God is God and I am not. Thanks be to God!

Lord, create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness. 

Mo. Bonnie-Marie Yager-Wiggan has served as the assisting priest at Trinity Cathedral since 2021. She and her husband Jamie were both confirmed at the Cathedral in 2018. Mo. Bonnie-Marie enjoys traveling, getting coffee with friends, reading, and watching British detective shows.