"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return, turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ"Yesterday was a strange day for our family. We celebrated my husband's birth 37 years ago, we mourned the death and celebrated the life of a person we knew and cared deeply for, and we both had ashes imposed to mark the beginning of the season of Lent (I should say that the Curate both imposed ashes himself and had them imposed twice, celebrated Communion once and deaconed once, and fitted in a piece of birthday cake and some presents too).
This sentence from the Ash Wednesday liturgy rang true for us particular after the events of our day. I was particularly moved as it was the first Ash Wednesday when I have been able to be in church for 4 years, thanks to the kindness of a lady in our congregation offering to babysit.
In church last night were our Guides, a noisy bunch of young girls who behaved very well and appeared to be open to the learning experience a service for Ash Wednesday provided. However I am not sure but I suspect that, like me at their age, the line which reminds us of our human mortality was lost on them. It is difficult (and frightening for some) to consider the possibility of death, the death of our loved ones, not to mention our own death, when we are just at the beginning of our human life, and feel immortal. Yet Christianity has us facing that truth in the picture of Christ on the cross very early on in our faith journey, but not without the hope of the resurrection.
So to continue my thoughts about the reason for Christ's death, I believe in a resurrected God. In order to share in Christ's victory on Easter day we have to follow Him to the cross. Allow Him to wash our feet, break bread with Him, accept the times when we have denied Him access to our lives and our hearts, weep with Mary at the foot of the cross, and experience her fear at the empty tomb. Only then can we truely share in the joy of Easter Day, in that most glorious victory.
So that is where the "turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ bit" comes in. This Lent I shall offer anew all I am to God who loves me and forgives me and who loves and forgives you.
God our Father,
the strength of all who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers;
and because, in our weakness,
we can do nothing good without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in keeping your commandments
we may please you, both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.