Throughout the Gospels we hear Jesus’ invitation: Follow me!
That call still resonates as Christians around the world prepare to experience the 40 days of Lent starting on Ash Wednesday. The scriptures in Lent invite us to reflexion, repentance and a fearlessness of an engaged faith in the everyday of life. (Please see the Lenten Covenant prepared By Darlene Halfyard).
Let's answer the call to follow that leads to some difficult places.
A powerful Holy Week hymn sings:
Go to dark Gethsemane
you that feel the tempter’s power;
your Redeemer’s conflict see;
watch with him one bitter hour;
turn not from his grief away:
learn from him to watch and pray.
See him at the judgement hall,
beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
see him meekly bearing all;
love to all his soul sustained.
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss:
learn from Christ to bear the cross.
(James Montgomery, 1820, VU 133)
There is an unusual tradition in the Christian church of burning the palms of the previous years Palm Sunday, and by adding oil make an anointing paste. Those ashes, placed on our hands or forehead are a visual affirmation of our yes to Jesus’ call. Ashes symbolize mortality and need for grace. They remind us: You are going to die one day so live life preciously, passionately, with gratitude and thoughtfulness.
For me this is the core idea in John’s gospel (12: 24). I am telling you the truth, a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it dies, then it produces many grains. As we follow Jesus we learn how to live and how to die.
Let us learn at our Master's feet and follow where he leads us, together.
Suivons Jésus dans cette route de Carême, ensemble.
God our Creator,
you have formed us out of the dust of the earth.
May these ashes be to us
a sign of our mortality and penitence,
so that we may remember
that only by your gracious gift
are we given everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen. (VU 106)
Prayer for the anointing at
Ash Wednesday (SouthWest, March 6, and communion Sunday at Emmanuel, March 10.)