February 26, 2020 “Heart and Soul”
“In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother/sister; and we commit his/her body to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Thus reads part of the Committal in the Funeral Liturgy. (Book of Alternative Services)
As we receive the Imposition of Ashes, we are reminded of the “uncertainty and frailty of human life” and our need for repentance and forgiveness, as individuals and as a faith community. The sign of the Cross, traced on our forehead, with ashes made from last year’s palm crosses, echoes our Baptism, “I sign you with the cross and mark you as Christ’s own forever.” Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart O God.” exhorts us to ‘return to the Lord’. The act of the Imposition of Ashes itself is not described in Holy Scripture although references to ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ can be found in the Books of Genesis, Job and elsewhere.
Today we also embark on the Lenten journey, called to “observe a holy Lent by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting and almsgiving and by reading and meditating on the word of God.” The 40 days of the season provide the opportunity to make needed changes in our lives, to turn away from behaviours and attitudes which are damaging or unhealthy for ourselves and others, and to be honest with God, who sees through all falseness and dishonesty. The path ahead may not be a ‘walk in the park’ but the experiences along the route may indeed result in growth, a deeper relationship with our Saviour and inner peace. We walk it in good company!