from William Willimon:
Lent is that time when we all-too-worldly ones learn and relearn the great scandal that lies at the heart of the Christian faith-- Christ came to save sinners, only sinners.
Much of the time we get away with the fiction that we are, after all, down deep, rather nice people who have no need of salvation. We know we may not be the best people in the world, but we are not the worst. We are making spiritual progress, lifting ourselves (by ourselves) out of the muck and mire of what once was called "sin."
And then comes the church smearing ashes upon our foreheads, forcing us to our knees in confession, teaching us to say, "Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy upon us sinners."
That's not something many of us want the church to do anymore.
"Why should men love the church?" asks T. S. Eliot. "Because she tells them of sin and death and other unpleasant facts of life they would as soon forget."