While pondering Ash Wednesday, our Lenten journey, and the Resurrection at Easter, I am captivated by the imagery of fire and flames, the ashes left behind, and the mythical Phoenix.
We are temporary.
Ash Wednesday echoes to each person ‘remember that you are ash and to ash you shall return’. It reminds us that our physical bodies, minds, and lives are temporary, for in the grand scheme of time our existence is a mere blink of the eye.
Despite this brief existence, we are tempted to extended it through becoming legends and lifting ourselves onto a delusional pedestal built of pride, ego, and presumed (self) righteousness.
Burn it Down!
Lent is a journey of burning that delusional pedestal down to nothing but ashes.
Lent is a journey forged with vulnerability and honest self-reflection seeking to destroy that pedestal and additional barriers distracting from, challenging, and hindering our relationship with God, neighbor, and self. These barriers include, but are not limited to:
- heartlessness and indifference,
- prejudice and hatred,
- anger and frustration,
- pain and hurt,
- and self-centeredness (sin).
The flames of vulnerability and honest self-reflection engulf these leaving behind the ashes of our authentic self, beautifully flawed persons.
Arise from the Ashes!
These ashes from burning the pedestal and barriers down enable our resurrection into new life. It is from these ashes of our former self that we can and will be raised into new life.
It is from these ashes of our former self that we are raised, like a Phoenix, stronger and bolder.
It is from these ashes of our former self that we are raised with Christ more fully into the person that God has, is, and will continue to call us to be.
Burn it down to ashes, be raised from those ashes into new life, and then repeat!
This process of fire, ashes, and resurrection is a continual life-long process that is not completed until the moment of death; and thus, should not be confided to Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Easter alone.
This process of fire, ashes, and resurrection also is not limited to individuals, but includes Trinity Lutheran Church, the church universal, and the entire creation.
Melinda Gapen, Pastor