‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.’
These were the words said by the priest as he drew a black cross on my forehead at the Imposition of Ashes this morning. The ash cross is a sign of penitence and mortality. At the church I attended, we left the service with the mark still on our foreheads so that we could carry the sign of the cross out into the world.
And that is exactly what happened…
I walked home from church via the supermarket. Inside, as I was waiting to pay, the lady behind me in the queue started talking to me. She asked me if I’d been to the Imposition of Ashes after noticing the cross on my forehead. It got us talking, and she told me she was going to a service for hers this evening. It was lovely to see that, indeed, this symbol drew people to you and your faith out in the community, just as it was meant to.
Ash Wednesday is a day of penitence to clean the soul at the beginning of Lent. It is there as a reminder of three things before Lent really gets underway. They are:
- Death comes to all
- We must be sad for our sins
- We must change ourselves for the better
I love the last one of these. Being able to admit what we have done wrong, be truly sorry about it, and move forward in a positive way, fresh and forgiven, is wonderful and liberating. What a way to begin our 40 days of devotion! It is like a New Year for Christians, where we make God even more imminent in our lives once again. After all:
‘God made the first human being by breathing life into dust, and without God, human beings are nothing more than dust and ashes.’
I will be posting each day for the 40 days of Lent! I hope you enjoy reflecting and rejoicing with me in the build up to Easter.