It’s the end of Ordinary Time in the church year. Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. For the next forty days, like many Christians, I will give up something I enjoy, so that I can identify in some small way with Christ’s suffering and death.
Last year’s palms, which were waved joyously to mark Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, are burned. The ashes are applied to our foreheads in the shape of a cross as a sign of repentance.
The “Imposition of Ashes” will not signify that I have repented, but that I have begun forty days of repenting. Yes, it is the end of that blissful ordinary time when I could live in the illusion that there is nothing wrong with me.
Someone asked me the other day, “What do people say to God during the Prayer of Confession when they have nothing to confess?”
“They can ask for more self-awareness,” I replied.
Now I must take my own advice, and I’m a little nervous of what the Holy Spirit might reveal. I don’t like being burdened with truth and guilt.
But the One who weds me to the truth does not abandon me at the altar. God walks with me in it, helping me to turn from hurtful ways to more loving ways of being.
And that is because God loves the world and everyone and everything in it.
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” –John 8:31,32
Questions for your Lenten journey:
- What feelings emerge when you think about repenting? Share those feelings with God.
- Can you imagine God responding with kindness and compassion? If not, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s true character.
Only in the USA could there be ‘drive through’ ashes!
However I am also challenged to accept that though the imposition of ashes is a single moment, it signifies the start of a journey of many days. In Lent we can go deeper into Christ’s suffering and facing our part in that because we know that the end is not Good Friday, but Easter.
Thanks, Gillian. I am challenged by that too.