God is Merciful and Compassionate . . .
Joel 2:1-2,12-13 NLT
 Sound the trumpet in Jerusalem! Raise the alarm on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the LORD is upon us.
 It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness. Suddenly, like dawn spreading across the mountains, a great and mighty army appears. Nothing like it has been seen before or will ever be seen again.
 That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.
Reflection . . .
Today, Ash Wednesday, many begin their journey into Lent which is the 40 day preparation season before Easter. This season is intended to help focus on the need for repentance and cleansing before God through activities of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Current popular thinking focuses primarily on fasting often in a somewhat light-hearted manner. These three virtues have historically been the foundation points for living a disciplined life before God.
Today we focus on repentance being the foundation of prayer. God is merciful and compassionate and we have this tendency to move away from receiving His mercy and compassion. Through repentance, through humility we are able to receive all that God has for us.
Let’s pray these words from Psalm 51 as we begin this journey together:
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Amen.
– Psalm 51:7-11 NLT