Our great Lenten journey has begun! It’s a journey which begins in ash and ends in light. Fire is a profound part of our national experience. We know its power to destroy, blacken and reduce to ash. We know that evil can do the same - destroy our wholeness of spirit, blacken our lives and others’ and reduce the beauty of human life to so much ash.
We began Lent in the ash of acknowledging our own part in harbouring, creating and doing evil - those places in us where the fire of anger, bitterness, selfishness or narrowness of mind and heart has left nothing but smouldering ash.
The ash is a reminder that our true life is not found in mortal things which eventually turn to dust, but in eternal things. We also know that out of ash new life can bud, grow strong, bloom into fullness - that’s the Easter miracle.
As always, the Gospels of the first two Sundays in Lent provide a road map for our Lenten journey from temptation (this Sunday) to transfiguration (next Sunday).
Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are our companions on this journey. We fast not only from food, but from everything that prevents us from entering more deeply into prayerful communion with God who gently draws us away from evil. We allow ourselves to be tempted out of the ash of selfishness and narrowness of heart and into a life of open hearted goodness. We celebrate God’s graciousness to us by sharing what we have with those in need whether it be food, wealth, time, love, friendship or compassion. That’s what it means to ‘repent and believe the Good News’.
In these days when we are so conscious of the impact of human life on God’s creation, perhaps we could think about some permanent fasting from our excessive consumption of power, food and petrol in order to allow our earth to heal, to breathe and to continue to be a source of nourishment and life for the whole human family.