Dear Friends,

And so, Ash Wednesday is upon us. While we as a Church do not formally acknowledge it nevertheless, from time to time it does us good to be reminded of its significance. It is the 1st day of Lent, itself a period to be set apart for prayer and fasting in preparation for the celebration of Easter. On this 1st day of Lent, we are to be reminded thus… “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Words that echo God’s judgement on Adam and Eve as a consequence of their having ‘fallen into sin’ and in so doing were to be expelled from the Garden of Eden before they had had opportunity to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Eternal Life – fruit not hitherto denied to them – thereby finding themselves to be ‘mere mortals.’ The theological significance of which was reinforced by Paul with characteristic brusqueness when he wrote in his Letter to the Romans that…“The wages of sin is death” But it is not all doom and gloom…Paul goes on to remind his readers that while this is so, nevertheless…“The free gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord” And so, on Ash Wednesday, whilst it is right that we be reminded of our sin and of its consequence, it is also right that we be encouraged to realise that this is not the ned of the matter, but that we are to rouse ourselves in response…“Repent, and believe in the Gospel” Herein is the crux of the matter. That which provides the impetus that will guide us through this period of Lenten devotion. We are to recognise within ourselves that there is that within ourselves, about ourselves, the self that we have become, of which we ought to be ashamed over which we ought to repent – hence the tradition that emerged of folk outwardly demonstrating their need for repentance by the wearing of ‘sackcloth and ashes’ – that for which we need to seek forgiveness. The essence of which is captured in the beautiful words of Psalm 51, which begins as follows…

“Be merciful to me, O God, because of your constant love.
Because of your great mercy
 wipe away my sins!
Wash away all my evil
and make me clean from my sin!

I recognize my faults.   I am always conscious of my sins.
I have sinned against you—only against you—
 and done what you consider evil.
So you are right in judging me.
  You are justified in condemning me.
Sincerity and truth are what you require.
  Fill my mind with your wisdom.
Remove my sin, and I will be clean.
 Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”


And so, sometime today, let us find a few moments to be honest with ourselves. None of us is perfect. What is it about us that could/should be better? And then, leave it with God, and let God deal with it and us, as only God can: patiently, kindly, forgivingly, lovingly…

None of us is perfect