Lent began on Wednesday. We had a service of the Imposition of Ashes and Holy Communion. The symbol of ashes is an important one. Throughout the bible we read of people and towns sitting in and covering themselves with ashes as a sign of repentance. The town of Nineveh (Jonah) and Job spring to mind quite quickly. Jesus also talks about Tyre and Sidon repenting in sackcloth and ashes (Matthew 11:21).
Repentance is something many of us do not like to do. It is an
acknowledgement of our failing in some way or manner, and of course it would
not be good to do that! This promotes a sign of weakness, increases our
vulnerability, and reinforces the view that we are not as good or as strong
as we would like to think we are.
Yet these are the very reasons why repentance is so important. As we come
before God we are brought to the realisation that we are not as we think we
are. We do go our own way and if we are honest we know that our life is not
as it should be or as God would want it to be. With this realisation we need
to face our weakness in failing to follow God’s way, our vulnerability by
putting our trust in someone other than ourselves.
Our readings today pick up this theme of going our own way (Noah), turning
away from God and the consequences of this. Yet the gospel is good news in
that Jesus came to bring us back to God. “Repent and believe the Good News”.
No longer do we face death. We look forward to the new life Jesus gives as
we turn to him and repent.
Lent is a time when we draw near to God and realise again our need for Him
to guide and direct our lives. This requires repentance from our ways and
believing again in the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ.