Ash Wednesday - Dwelling Spaces

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ash Wednesday

This morning we had 'ashes imposed' as part of our communion service. The sign of the cross is made using ashes which often come from the burning of the previous years palm crosses from Palm Sunday. While the sign of the cross is being made on your forehead, these words are said: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.

Today I was struck for the first time about the significance of using the palm crosses for ashes.  The palm crosses remind us of the welcome that Jesus had as he came into Jerusalem the week before he was crucified. As he entered Jerusalem that day, the crowds hailed him as their king in great hope that Jesus was about to save them and bring about the restoration of Israel. The palms were all about how people expected God to meet their hopes and expectations.

But of course, Jesus was about the business of salvation on a much grander scale - for all humanity in every generation - setting aside nationalism and hopes driven by selfish desires. In the end the people who had welcomed Jesus as king either didn't get the truth, or didn't want it, and so their cries turned to 'Crucify him'!

So I was struck today how right it is that we burn up our palms. To follow Jesus is to decide to stop trying to conform Jesus to our expectations, but to begin to conform ourselves to his expectations.  This can feel like death, and the bible tells us it is in fact putting our 'flesh', our selfish desires to death. We are 'but dust', but we are dust with the life of God breathed into us, created out of love, and for purpose. I cannot imagine a 'better' life than deciding this is true, and so turning away from sin (doing things my way) and back to God (doing things God's way).

So Happy Ash Wednesday! And Happy Valentine's Day! May you know and love the one who fully knows and fully loves you. 

No comments:

Post a Comment