Thursday, February 14, 2013

ASHES! ASHES!


A pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes,
We all fall down.

     There are a number of explanations of the origin of this children’s rhyme that hearkens from at least the mid-1800’s. A few of the possible meanings find their basis in the Black Plague, where peoples’ faces became rosy in color, and posies were carried to ward off the disease which ultimately ended in the untimely death of young and old alike and where ashen pallor gave way to the falling down into death.  Kind of takes all the fun out of that little nursery rhyme many of us sang as children.
     I realize that this is not a very happy-themed Shepherd’s Staff, but it is meant to remind us of the seriousness of the Lenten season which is before us, starting rightfully so with Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, Ash Wednesday is celebrated by our more liturgical brothers and sisters. It is a time of solemn reflection and prayer, often with a ash mark placed upon the forehead. It signified the beginning of the 40 days leading toward Holy Week wherein we commemorate the passion of our Lord which culminated in His sin-atoning sacrifice upon the cross of Golgotha.
English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Ch...
English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Christian on Ash Wednesday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
     These days of Lent are often pursued by the faithful in the giving up of some earthly pleasure. It is a time of prolonged fasting in order to help us to remember the suffering of our Lord. Symbolic as it may be, it is in giving up on a daily basis some pleasure or enjoyment or needed item, that we made to stop and contemplate the great cost Jesus Christ paid for our redemption. However, we can never fully comprehend the suffering of our God for us.
     Though it is a time which focuses upon sacrifice and suffering, it is also a time marked with hope that is ours because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. The loud proclamation that sin and death had once and for all been conquered, and that we, through Christ Jesus can be reconciled unto God the Father. Hallelujah!
     I don’t know how you will spend the next days leading up to the remembrance of the crucifixion and the celebration of the resurrection, but I do encourage you to sacrifice daily something that will give you cause to stop and ponder the great grace of our God and Savior. It is a great time as we lay something down so we take time to raise someone up; to pray for others, to be of practical service to those in need.  Ask yourself, “What might I give up so that others may be filled up?” If you need an idea check out the H2O Project though Living Water International at: water.cc/h20project.

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