You are merciful to all, O Lord, and despise nothing that you have made. You overlook people’s sins, to bring them to repentance, and you spare them, for you are the Lord our God.
Today marks the first day of Lent and the beginning of a time of repentance and fasting.
The Ash Wednesday ritual is based on the Bible’s record of the use of ashes as a visible sign of contrition (2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1,3; Job 2:8, 30:19, 42:6; Jonah 3:6). The tradition is meant to help believers identify with the suffering and death of Jesus as a penalty for our sin.