posted on February 15
There is no greater pleasure for me than being warmed on a cold wintry day in front of my Glascock wood burning stove. The crackling of the wood, the dance of the flames, encircled by the warmth lulls me into a peaceful sleep. Then, I wake up….to ashes. Ash removal can be a challenge. As I scoop up the ashes and watch them land happily on my furniture, I ponder the significance and value of ashes. My wooden ashes signify the residue of pleasure and comfort.
Ashes used to mark the cross on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday come from the burned palm branches of the previous year’s Palm Sunday. Ash Wednesday begins our voyage through Lent with repentive reflection followed by forty days of renewal as we travel to the ultimate glory of Easter. The significance and value of these ashes are a reminder that even though we eagerly received Christ’s love at the beginning of our Christian walk, we have perchance lost, misplaced, or forgotten that first love. Ash Wednesday prepares our journey to Easter by encouraging us to examine our present relationship with Christ, confess and mourn our wanting past, and to look hopefully and joyously to an inspiring future with Christ.
Daniel had the right idea:
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. Daniel 9:3-5
Like Daniel’s prayer and supplication, may the ashes on Ash Wednesday be a cry to turn our face to God first, to pray and confess, and to ask for continual guidance.
These instructions to reflect, to repent, and to renew, along with Daniel’s plea, bring to mind three similar directives: do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
For the journey, wear your ash cross with repentance, thanksgiving, courage, and hope.
Kim Eller, District Lay Leader
Northern Piedmont District