Ash Wednesday, March 1

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—

“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts.”

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

14 Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12: 1-14 (NRSV)


We have all attended school of some sort in our lives. We have all had to learn to study, to work hard for what we want, and to accomplish goals. Rarely, do we do this on our own. Rarely, do we do this without teachers, mentors, friends, family, or pastors. We usually work hard with a community. Rarely, do we accomplish tasks, goals, on our first try without hardship. We fall, we slip, and

we mess up. Sometimes, we end up with a bloody nose and bruised knees. The mess-ups aren’t always small, they’re not always big, but they exist. They exist to show us what we are doing wrong, how we can do things better, and that we can try again.

In these moments of setting goals and working hard for them, we learn. We learn to endure the pain, the struggle, the self-doubt, and the failures. We, alongside, our people, our communities, pick ourselves back up and we try again until we succeed.

Happy Ash Wednesday, not many people say that. Ash Wednesday is the start of our season of Lent. It is the exact opposite of Advent where we are waiting with joyful anticipation for the Christ child to be born. In Lent, we are waiting with solemn anticipation for that same Christ child to die. We are waiting in this time, recognizing our failures and our sins. We are in this season where we repent, and we try harder to be better. This season is about healing and reconciliation.

We heal, we do better, with the help of our community. Hebrews 12 says it well “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”. We are not alone in any of this. We are surrounded.


God of Grace and Mercy,

We come today with ourselves laid bare before you
We come with our sins, our failures, our self doubt
We come with hope in another chance
We come surrounded by our communities, our cloud of witnesses
We come waiting
We come waiting for healing, for reconciliation.
Lord, stand by us, teach us, surround us.


Rebecca Cummings
Final Year, M. Div.

Following graduation, Becca hopes to serve in parish ministry.


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