So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us;
we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and the start of the 40 days of the season of Lent leading to Easter. With the arrival of Lent, we are faced again with what is required of us in loving God and loving neighbor. Lent is a season that calls us to look deep within ourselves and leads us to deepen our relationship with God and with one another.
On Ash Wednesday, several of our church staff offered ‘street ashing’ in the early morning. We were on the corner of Windsor St. and Bird St. holding signs and offering passersby coffee, muffins and the mark of the cross on their forehead with ashes. With the mark of ashes, the words, “Repent and believe the Gospel” were shared.
The ashes remind us of our humanity and mortality and that we are God’s good creation call to be signs of God’s hope in the world. The word ‘Repent’ means to recognize our sin and turn back toward God. And ‘believe the Gospel’ means to believe and share the good news of God’s love. Ash Wednesday ranks as one of the few days in the year when we don’t seem to mind having a visible mark on us for all to see.
The people who stopped to have the mark of the cross put on their foreheads expressed their gratitude for sharing the opportunity. One person said she knew she could not make it to an Ash Wednesday service that day and was thankful for what she called, “Having the mark.” Another person drove up in her cab and expressed her gratitude, saying that she had learned the day before that her cancer was in remission and she wanted a way to express her thanks to God by having the mark of ashes.
In this Lenten season, may remember what it means to be a ‘marked’ Christian, whether it is Ash Wednesday or any other day of the week. May we find opportunities to look for and name places of gratitude.