Playing for the ashes… it conjures up for many of us (at least from the British Commonwealth) the test cricket match between Australia and England, probably one of the most fiercely fought international games. But that is not what I am writing about here. The ashes that I am thinking of have nothing to do with a game but with Ash Wednesday which ushers in probably the most serious event of history – the seasons of Lent and Easter and the death and resurrection of Christ.
Unfortunately many of us treat the season of Lent like a game – more like the cricket match called the Ashes than like the serious turn around time it is meant to be. We come to the season with a list of trivial things we intend to give up – TV, video games, chocolate, but most of us don’t really take the season seriously or use it as a time to dig deeply into our hearts to sweep out the corners in which sin has accumulated.
The symbolism of this day which we celebrate next Wednesday hit me with a renewed impact this morning. The ashes are traditionally made by burning the Palm Sunday crosses from the previous year reminding us all that the repentance we seek at this season is only possible because of the incomprehensible gift of Christ 2,000 years ago. Out of my reflections this morning I wrote this prayer:
May we trust today in the God who has given us all things in Christ
Love poured out in nail torn hands
Life poured out in death on cross
Mercy shown when judgement was deserved
God who has given us what is incomprehensible,
May we trust in you today