Ashes and Affirmation
To Be Blessed
The Christian year provides an important template for understanding the mystery of human life and its proper unfolding.
Christmas highlights the gift of life, the naming of the Person, and the love and attention that naturally surround this miracle. A season of blessing.
To Be Resolute
At our best we sense a deep instinct to preserve and develop these values of life cherished, named and blessed. With the advent of a new year there is a tradition of making resolutions to better understand and pursue this agenda. A season of resolution.
To Be Challenged
But… as we all know, resolution fades, love cools, complications arise and challenge this wholesome picture. The natural instinct is to improve performance, systems, targets. It is here that the Christian Gospel becomes more distinctive. The period of Lent is a time of owning that many of the factors that dissolve goodness, hope and health exist within ourselves. We are fallen, incomplete. Each of us has motes in our own eyes. The key to combatting the stress of sin and struggle begins by each of us owning our own failures and complicity. The sign is Ashes – the occasion Ash Wednesday. A season of confession.
To Be Saved
By owning our own failures and limitations we make ourselves ready to receive a richer kind of gift. Not life, but new life – in Christ. Sinner made saint. Helplessness filled with hope. This miracle is enacted at Easter, when the worst expression of sin and failure, the torture and murder of an innocent Person, becomes the path of forgiveness and eternal glory. A season of salvation.
Ashes as Affirmation
This journey is repeated continually in human living: individuals, groups, societies. The key is the humility to own our own ‘ashes’ – imperfection and fragility. That mark of the cross in ashes made on Ash Wednesday, is a sign of blessing, resolution, confession, salvation. Ashes are the key to real affirmation – try to find time on Ash Wednesday to receive this mark. Nothing could be more significant in making sense of the mystery of human living and its proper unfolding. A season for transformation.