Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

posted on March 06

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

We fall down, we lay our crowns
at the feet of Jesus.
We Fall Down by Chris Tomlin

There is an old nursery rhyme called “Ring Around the Roses” that sadly told the tragic tale of the plagues which devastated many parts of Europe long ago. The song was a way of passing down the story as a cautionary tale, from generation to generation.
 
Here’s one way the song can be interpreted:
 
Ring around the Rosies (a round rash was the first physical sign of plague)  
Pocket full of posies (flowers were a folk cure for plague)
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. (the plague dead were often cremated)
 
How painful to sing such a lament, and how ironic to find it in a later form as a children’s song.  BUT it helped people to remember what to look for, and to have a sense of what to expect. We eventually forgot what it really meant. I suggest to you that it wouldn’t hurt to remember what some things really mean.
 
We are entering (and due to our recent division at General Conference we may have already entered) a season of lament, honesty, and confession. We will begin to sing some of the more painful, somber, minor-key hymns of faith – and even today we will wear ashes upon our foreheads as a sign that we are “dust, and to dust we shall return.” We deeply and mutually acknowledge our need to “repent and believe the Gospel.”  (Book of Worship)
 
When I was serving in the local church, I recall this being one of the most significant services of the year. There’s simply nothing like it as a gut check for our mortality and sinfulness. With tears, I have placed ashes on the foreheads of people I have loved, and reminded them of their dusty nature. With tears, I have also been reminded of mine.
 
Ashes, ashes, we ALL FALL DOWN. We fall down in our relationships. We fall down in our judgment. We fall down in our responsibilities. We are all human. Understanding our mutual fallen nature can become an opportunity to forgive each other and to make a vow to love and cooperate in new ways.
 
Ashes, ashes, WE ALL FALL DOWN. Someday, we will all fall down in death. All the organs and muscles that catapult us from activity to activity will cease. All the grey matter that keeps us bantering and arguing will eventually grow cold and still. Remembering that we are dust, and to dust we shall return is a really helpful exercise.
 
And it’s coming at just the right time. (God is always right on time.) I wish you a blessed day, and most of all, a Holy Lent. And when you do fall down, I hope you will lay your crown at the feet of Jesus. That’s where it belongs.
 
Lenten Blessings,
 
Bev Coppley
Northern Piedmont District Superintendent
 

Ashes Ashes We All Fall Down. #AshWednesday
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