Crossed ashes! - February 2013
Ash Wednesday falls on 13th February this year. During our evening service at St George’s, one of the passages that will be read comes from Joel chapter 2. His book constitutes a punchy prophecy!
The immediate event that spurs his words is a plague of locusts of unusual size. One day the field are ripening, a good harvest looks probable, fair winds are blowing…and the next those winds bring uncontrollable clouds that devour what was so promising. Fathers hide the remaining wheat from wives and children – because they need seed for the planting. The daily bread becomes not so daily. The rich and privileged bail themselves out, while the poor are left to glean after the insects.
What was probably shocking to Joel’s original listeners was that he described God as being at the forefront of that army of locusts. Joel suggested that the plague of locusts was a warning – a mirror – for Israel to recognize their spiritual state.
The Lenten season is a time for deliberately looking in the mirror; for rending hearts. We strike a very solemn note with the Ashes: they are an outward symbol of the examination of the heart. But, shaped as a cross, they become a symbol that reflects hope. Because God, the mirror-holder, is faithful. With Him there is forgiveness. (adapted) +Bill