Ash Wednesday: A Letter from Bishop Roger Ames

Ash Wednesday Bishop Letter

Ash Wednesday 2015

Return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he. (Joel 2:13)

My dear Sisters and Brothers,

So! Are you ready for Lent to begin? Have you decided what you’re going to give up? Have you ramped up your new, more aggressive schedule for prayer and Mass attendance? Have you decided how much money you’re going to give to the poor? Have you done enough? Planned enough? Resolved enough?

If these questions are making you anxious, take a deep breath. The last thing anyone wants to do is reduce this season of grace to a to-do list.

If you want to find the right tone and focus for this Lent, you don’t have to look any further than today’s first reading. Your heavenly Father is gracious and merciful. He is calling out to you so that he can bless you. Yes, there is “fasting, weeping, and mourning,” but not out of fear or anxiety (Joel 2:12). They are meant to arise from a heart that wants to know a deeper freedom from sin and fear—a heart that is looking to God for more of his love.

Here is the key to finding God this Lent—a soft heart. That’s why we are encouraged to fast, to pray, and to give alms during this season. They help prepare our hearts to receive God’s blessings. We don’t do them to prove ourselves to God or convince him to bless us. We do them because they can help us feel the presence of God. We do them because they can change our hearts and make us more like Jesus.

For the next forty days, we will have opportunity after opportunity to discover just how gracious and merciful our heavenly Father is. We will also have countless opportunities to respond to his grace and mercy—through repentance, generosity, worship, forgiveness, and acts of service. So let’s try our best to keep our hearts soft and open to the Lord, because that’s when the changes really happen.

“Father, thank you for inviting us to come to you this Lent. By your Spirit, help us to soften our hearts toward you and the people around us. May we strive to be the change we want to see in this world. We ask this in your son Jesus’s name and by the power of the Spirit. Let the Church say, Amen. ”

In the power of the One who died on the Cross,

I Remain,


Bishop, Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes, ACNA