Ash Wednesday Service

“For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water
over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!   - Ezekiel 36:24-28 MSG 

Many of us have received it as a compliment when someone has observed about one of us, "you clean up well." The understanding has been that we have proven to be more presentable or attractive than was previously realized. The observation praises the recipient for the discovered beauty. 

In the Ezekiel reading, it is not the beauty of Israel that
is of note. The clean-up is not a fashion makeover. It is a correction. God has observed, through the prophet, that the people of God have behaved
in such ways as to dishonor God's name. It is necessary for them to be redirected, so to curb the misrepresentation of the identity of our creator of which we are guilty. We are not being cleaned up or dressed up to reveal our beauty, but to restore for all the understanding of God's beauty. 

We could all benefit from periodic reminders that we are representatives of our God. My words are those of a child of God. Your actions reflect on the one who sent you. While we grow to understand our own names, and what glory they call us to, let us endeavor to preserve the name of God. 

Lord God, 

We are yours and all that comes from us points to you. May we bring well deserved glory and honor to your name.