Ash Wednesday

Written by Kathy Galloway

‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’

(Matt 6:21)

Isaiah 58:6-9

6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to lose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread

with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor

into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth

like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear-guard.
9 Then you shall call,

and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say,

Here I am.

Matthew 6: 17-21

17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret;

and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;

20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Reflection

February sees the transition from the season of Epiphany to the season of Lent in the Christian Year. In the readings from Scripture in the lectionary, we move from a time of gifts-the showing forth of God in unexpected places, such as a shed outside an inn-to a time of struggle and self-examination, marked by Jesus’s going into the wilderness after his baptism by John in the River Jordan.  We move from the deep joy of the Incarnation, the Word becoming human in Jesus Christ, to more difficult questions about what that means in practice for the followers of Jesus. How then shall we live? What does it mean to be a disciple, to walk in his way, to be a community of faith?

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent and a day of preparing to set aside time during the next six weeks for considering how we live our lives together with God, a day to consider our own mortality and our shared humanity. From dust we are and to dust we shall all return. As the threshold for Lent, it can be considered a threshold or ‘liminal’ time – a time which can bring change and transformation for individuals and communities.  This time might involve a more focused period of prayer and reflection.

Standing on this threshold, we are invited to hear the words written in Isaiah 58:6-7

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to lose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?”

People sometimes fast or give up some treat during Lent.  As we enter a period of reflecting, we don’t have to fast to become aware of what we crave, more alert to the compulsions that control us. From there, we can explore ways of naming these compulsions before God and looking for ways of being free from them. Whilst vital for the deepening of our inner lives we must find a way for this to turn into action or we risk losing ourselves in our own piety.  Repentance – the U-turn change of direction, must find expression in our lives.  Faith must result in action.

This might be as simple as reducing what we consume in order to live more gently on the earth or giving energy to raise awareness of those who suffer most in climate emergencies. 

May this be a time of reflection, when our sense are heightened; so we can see and take notice of where we are held by bonds of self interest, how that affects others, and how we may work with them to loosen the and break these bonds.

Prayer                                      

O God,

you have made us for yourself,

and against your longing there is no defence.

Mark us with your love,

and release in us a passion for your justice

in our disfigured world;

that we may turn from our guilt and face you,

our heart’s desire.

Amen

Janet Morley

Questions for further reflection

  1. As you stand on the threshold of Lent, what is it that you most hope to see happen within you and your community?
  2. What do you think are your own earthly treasures?
  3. What do you think are your heavenly treasures?

Your item – a peg

If you got our Lenten pack, you will find a wooden clothes peg. If you did not get the pack, you might find a peg somewhere in your house. You might find it helpful to dress or even paint it (see below). Perhaps it’s you, as you make your journey with Jesus through Lent; perhaps it’s a loved one whom you carry in your heart; perhaps it’s an inspirational person, teacher or saint whose life or work you are praying with.

For previous parts of our Journey through Lent go to: https://wellingtonchurch.co.uk/category/lent/Lent2021/


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