Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Ashes: On the Lenten Threshold

We are about to enter upon the season of Lent. The word “Lent” comes from the old English, lencten, meaning spring, the time of rebirth and new life. Just as we experience cycles and seasons in nature and in our natural lives, this same truth governs our spiritual and religious lives.

On Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the Christian community comes before God to receive the ashes traced on our foreheads in the form of a cross. This ritual has deep Biblical roots as we can see in the story of Abraham. 
When the city of Sodom was about to be destroyed because of its sinfulness, Abraham prayed to God on the city's behalf while describing himself as "dust and ashes" (Genesis. 18:27). And God promised that if there were as few as ten just persons there, Sodom would be spared.
The ashes are a reminder of our mortality as we listen to the words of Genesis 3:19: “Remember that you are dust and shall return to dust.” Genesis also depicts God as a sculptor forming the first human out of “the dust of the earth.” Ashes also symbolize repentance or conversion of heart, another Scriptural theme. 
Perhaps Tim Conry’s song, Ashes, could be our Lenten Prayer:
We rise again from ashes, from the good we’ve failed to do,
We rise again from ashes, to create ourselves anew.
If all our world is ashes, then must our lives be true,
An offering of ashes, an offering to you.
We offer you our failures, we offer you attempts;
The gifts not fully given, the dreams not fully dreamt...
[to] create the world anew.
An offering of ashes, an offering to you.
Sister Grace Sauvé


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