Dear Friends and Members of St Heliers Church and Community Centre,
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. Some of our people joined the Catholic and Anglican combined service at 7. 30pm. It is one of the most popular and important holy days in the calendar of the Catholic and Anglican churches across the world. On Ash Wednesday, people give up certain foods or habits to improve their health or demonstrate self-restraint for 40 days until Easter, (but this is without Sundays being included in the amount if there were counted it would be 46 days).
The Priest or Minister burns palm from the previous year’s Palm Sunday services to create ash.
This is then rubbed across people’s foreheads in the shape of the cross as they are reminded “From dust you are and to dust you shall return”. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. It is also a reminder that our lives are short and to live them to the full.
Alternatively, these words are spoken by the Minister or Priest; “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
Although it is not a strong holy day in the Presbyterian Church, it is important to have ways to remember what makes up our faith and to gather together with others to think about and to reflect on symbols that enrich our meaning and are a reminder that our own lives are not the centre of the Universe. The words “Repent and believe in the Gospel” says to me to stop Pauline; think about and be sorry for the wrongs that I have done or allow to be done and then focus on, “To whom do I belong to who do I serve ? “
So now we are in Lent? I am all for giving up something that helps our bodies and clears our minds. Self restraint and resisting temptations that hurt us and others are very commendable. Pope Francis has urged his leaders and the followers of Jesus to see Lent as a time to not just give up a food or pray more but adopt for our lives; self restraint in selfishness, in meanness, bigotry, dishonesty, racial prejudice.
This is my prayer. Let Lent (46 days) be a time of more prayer for others and a time when our lives (publicly and within our homes) will reflect the total commitment Jesus had to showing people the love and power of God.
Take the 1 min Ash Wed survey now