I find it very disappointing that most churches that i have attended dont really recognize Ash Wednesday. They will take part in Shrove Tuesday (Pancake tuesday) and with it start abstaining from something the next day. But never in the 'Ash' part of the wednesday.
There is something about sitting, reverently, contemplating our finite time here. Reminding ourselves that 'from ashes we come, and to ash we shall return'. I love the feeling of ash on my forehead, keeping a constant reminder that i am vulnerable. Vulnerable to agony, love, joy, and deep sorrowful pain. And that is what i often need reminding of: that Jesus, His royal self, became vulnerable... to everything, to colds, weather, hurts, love and ultimately His death.
Why do we start lent with shrove tuesday? I know how the tradition started, but i dont know how or why THAT became the beginning of lent. What if we stopped doing Advent sundays? What if instead we had a big meal, and left it at that. Forgetting the journey, forgetting the substance of what God did? He became human, made out of ASH.
Walking around with ash on ones forehead forces vulnerability. People look at you twice, sometimes wondering if they didnt see something right. Some people ask about it. And others still recognize it, but arent willing to allow themselves to join in. And then there are the ones who you see who also have the mark, and each other becomes softened to each other, because of they see the connection that binds, especially once our bodies return to ash and our souls move on in eternity.
It is very interesting that people when praying about Jesus dying for us, dont linger on that thought. He did, indeed die. Although i cannot completely comprehend his sacrifice, i do understand His love for us. I would quickly, and without hesitation, die for my children. But that isnt just what He did. He died for those of us who never met Him in person, who choose to believe. He died to rescue His chosen people. But He also died to glorify His Father. I dont know that i would be so quick to die to honour my parents. Jesus died to make the plan that his Father had in place come to fruition. Jesus' choice of being the sacrificial lamb so that all who ask may have eternal life, is a sacrifice that shakes me to my core. He chose to become one of us, to become vulnerable. We didnt, we are His Fathers creation, fashioned out of ash and molded by His hands. And through accepting the death of God's one and only son, we are adopted. We, created out of ash, dirt, are now His children.
Yesterday was the day that reminds me of all this, from ashes placed on my forehead. A great way to start off lent with the right frame of mind, not a belly full of pancakes.
Our bodies will return to ash one day. But as Jesus rose again, so shall we! Glory to God in the highest!!!
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:38)