Ash Wednesday Service – 9th March

For the second year running we held an service to mark the beginning of Lent, complete with Ashing! Unlike other churches we don’t have palm crosses to burn, ¬†instead we (after a few moments silent prayer and reflection) wrote something that we want to change over the course of Lent on to post it note, or other small scrap of paper. We then gathered in the porch and burned our private notes in a clay pot. Later in the service we used the ash from these for the ceremony in which I made a cross on the forehead of each person and pronounced the words from Genesis ‘Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return’. These are severe words indeed.

The intention is that in focusing on our mortality we will seize something of the value of life and it will help us to make positive changes. I mentioned how Buddhists sometimes keep flowers in a vase without any water to remind them that everything in this world (including ourselves) is impermanent. At first this seems quite depressing, but actually it can release a great serenity and joy to to be always mindful that we are not indestructible, and that we will all die one day.  Hospices are often very happy places where people realize the value of life in each second of each day.

If our faith stops at Good Friday, with the death of the earthly Jesus then there are still possibilities for joy. How much more joyful then should we be with our hope and belief in Easter Sunday. It is on this day that the Bios, the natural life which is destroyed on Good Friday, is overtaken by the Zoe the divine life that is the resurrection. Bios and Zoe are different Greek words for life which the New Testament uses when talking about Jesus. Undoubtedly the earthly Jesus possessed Bios, but when John’s gospel says ‘In him was life…’ it is describing Zoe, the divine life that we all hope and pray will become a reality in us.

It is through the divine life working in and upon us that we stand a chance of being changed in a wonderful way during Lent. We cannot do anything on our own, but if we accept and invite a divine force to act in and upon us we can have a portion of the resurrection life now, in anticipation of the full Zoe to come in the resurrection, in the Kingdom of God.

Comments are closed.