A Reflection for Ash Wednesday 2013

by Christine Sine

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 – Jesus final days and his walk towards the Cross.

For many of us, today (yes, it is already Ash Wednesday in Australia) marks the beginning of a personal journey too as we join Jesus in his final days. 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.

Ash Wednesday cross

The ashes used in church services on Ash Wednesday are traditionally made by burning the Palm Sunday crosses from the previous year so this year I decided to experiment. My Palm Sunday cross from last year was still sitting in my office, so I burnt it, reminding myself that the repentance I seek at this season is only possible because of the incomprehensible gift of Christ and his death on a cross 2,000 years ago. 

Burning my Palm Sunday cross had a big impact on me. It reminded me that the crucifixion is not really meant to be the focus of our mourning and fasting. We mourn and fast not because we are heading to the cross but because we want to shed all that disrupts our intimate walk with God. We look beyond the cross to the life of God’s kingdom. Asking myself what still needs to be repented of and transformed in my life so that I can be an effective citizen of God’s resurrection created world is probably the most important question of Lent. I want to become all that God intends me to be. I want to leave behind all that prevents me from becoming that person. I want to thirst for righteousness and hunger for justice rather than for water and food.

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12 comments

aussiemef February 12, 2013 - 7:07 pm

Lord have mercy

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MW February 12, 2013 - 8:07 pm

Blessings to you during this season of Lent!

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Christine Sine February 12, 2013 - 8:45 pm

Thank you

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Jeff Borden February 12, 2013 - 10:31 pm

such a good word. Thank you!

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Christine Sine February 12, 2013 - 10:32 pm

Thanks Jeff

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Teri Peterson February 12, 2013 - 10:36 pm

thank you for such a beautiful and succinct way to lead us into the season. may you observe a holy lent.

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Christine Sine February 13, 2013 - 7:09 am

Thank you Teri – may you too

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Willow Wanderer February 13, 2013 - 6:45 am

thank you, I’ve been looking forward to this. Its the only study/reflection I’ve committed to doing his lent.

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Christine Sine February 13, 2013 - 7:10 am

Willow I hope that you will share what you learn with us too.

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Sally and Paul Nash February 13, 2013 - 2:50 pm

I got to read Isaiah 58 today, my first Ash Wednesday Service as a Deacon – what you have written resonates so much with that reading…

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Christine Sine February 13, 2013 - 3:23 pm

Thank Sally. Isaiah 58 is one of my favourites

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Lent: Eight Ideas for Creating Sacred Space | V3 Church Planting Movement February 16, 2015 - 5:37 am

[…] couple of years ago I burnt the crosses and palms from the previous year to make a pile of ashes that became my focus for the season. It stirred my […]

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