great hope in Ash Wednesday

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating:  People who think I’m some crazy liberal are always so shocked about how much I love to talk about sin.   I think liberals tend to think admitting we are sinful is the same as having low self-esteem.  And then conservatives equate sin with immorality.  So one end of the church tells us that sin is an antiquated notion that only makes us feel bad about ourselves so we should avoid mentioning it at all.  While the other end of the church tells us that sin is the same as immorality and totally avoidable if you can just be a good squeaky-clean Christian. Yet when sin is boiled down to low self-esteem or immorality then it becomes something we can control or limit in some way rather than something we are simply in bondage to.  The reality is that I cannot free myself from the bondage of self. I cannot by my own understanding or effort disentangle myself from self interest – and when I think that I can …I’m basically trying to do what is only God’s to do.

So, to me, there is actually great hope in Ash Wednesday, a great hope  in admitting my mortality and my brokenness because then I finally lay aside my sin management program long enough to allow God to be God for me.  Which is all any of us really need when it comes down to it.

Nadia Bolz-Weber