We celebrated Ash Wednesday last night in our church community. We've invited each other to journey through Lent as a community with 40 days of prayers with Sacred Space.
It was a moving time, and as I thought about why here were some of the ingredients for me at least:
1. Death: Being marked with the burnt palm crosses from last year by my Wife, reminded by her that I was from dust and that I would return to dust was sobering.
That no matter how much I love her, we will be separated by death, but the faith we have in Jesus is bigger than our own deaths and our separation when that day comes.
2. Connection: To my church community gathered to administer this signing of the cross to each other. To Jesus and his Body. To the Church in history.
Using the words of a 9th century Ash Wednesday prayer, I had the sense of standing in the tradition, the story of the church, doing something to connect to a story much bigger and eternal than the madness of the other stories unfolding around me in the news and daily life at present.
3. Icon: Leaving with the cross marked on my forehead, with my church family moving to leave with the cross showing on our bodies was powerful.
There are so many symbols, that jostle for our attention, value and money in consumer culture. It was liberating to be marked with the cross, the sign of our saviour.
In a world where everything can be bought and sold, I found the peace that comes from being a slave to Jesus, and the desire to enter into that identity more than ever.