Ashes in Hope

Pastoral Reflections

It was a year ago, at least by the liturgical calendar, when our former boiler blew up. It was the last Sunday of Epiphany, right before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. You can’t forget it… We gave up heat for Lent!

As I look toward this Lent… this Ash Wednesday, I do so in renewed hope.

If asked to tell in a sentence what Ash Wednesday was about, I’d call it a liturgy of repentance. When we repent in the ashes of that day, we are doing something deeper than looking at individual sins. We are acknowledging, through liturgy, our corruptible nature. Our entire sinful condition. Our depravity. In short, our ashes. Yet, as we take ashes upon ourselves, we turn our eyes to the One who took our very human nature upon Himself, that He might redeem us from the ashes.

It reminds me about the boiler saga. The old boiler did alright, but it was old with worn out parts, limited in its response to its masters’ need (ours). It eventually crumbled (into its ashes). But in place of it is a new boiler. A new creation. It possesses a superior body with enhanced efficiencies for the masters’ desire. It even has inbuilt automation that protect it against the sorts of malfunction that killed the old one.

Today, we take up our ashes in penitence, but we take them up in lively hope. One day, these ashes shall rise unto eternal redemption and beauty. But for now, we embrace them as we enter into Lent through the doorway of Ash Wednesday.

As we face the impending darkening of Lent, we turn our eyes toward the cross where Christ confronted Death that Life might reign. He became sin, who knew no sin, that through Him, we might become the righteousness of God. I invite us to prepare for Lent in the repentance that begets hope.
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Donald Nwankwo
The Light of Christ Anglican Church
4000 W. Yale Ave.
Denver, CO 80219