Ash Wednesday: Psalm 51

Let the Truth Set You Free
Pastor Troy Medlin

Read Psalm 51

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me. Psalm 51:3

Ash Wednesday is all about truth telling. That may be why it is often popular among otherwise unchurched folks. It feels like an invitation into a kind of freedom, a freedom that is fleeting out in the world. Jesus was on to something when he talked about how the truth does that to people. There is no pretense on Ash Wednesday or in Lent for that matter. No more hiding or pretending. No more living in captivity to the carefully cultivated ideal. It is time to tell the truth about our real human condition as David does in Psalm 51, the very psalm we find on our lips each Ash Wednesday.

In our lives we are encouraged to constantly curate an image that presents the best version of ourselves,  and online this is accelerated. On social media we present our “best lives.” There is something both faithful and liberating about confessing sin and being honest about who we are. 

It is an act of defiance for us to say with David “in sin was I conceived” and “my sin is ever before me.” Sin is real. It is liberating to name it. We acknowledge our limitations amid voices telling us we are limitless. We do not shy away from this. It is the truth.

Contemplating this David prays for a new heart and new spirit, prayers that are answered for us in our baptisms. There we receive both just as we are, in this body, both given to us as gift. Full forgiveness for sinners, by sheer grace. Letting this promise wash over us like water is another act of defiance in a world so bent on earning and deserving.

As simultaneously sinner and saint we move through the world completely free and completely loved. Period. That is the truth, even in Lent. 

God whose mercy flows forever, we are fragile and finite, sinner and saint. May we see ourselves truly and live in the freedom that is ours through Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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