Wednesday, February 22, 2012
We begin with ash and end with fire!
Or is it we begin with fire and end with cold ash?
It is worth reflecting on the ashes we receive, they should be be made from the previous years palms.
One of our children was a little cautious about receiving them, I discovered he thought they were made from dead people, maybe even his deceased grandmother who had been cremated!
A whole palm frond, as opposed to a little leaflet or those so protestant palm crosses, are supposed be a sign of victory and triumph, used to greet the Christ as he enters hid Holy City, within a week they could become the instrument to strike Christ on the face, were they still lying in the street as he made his way to crucifixion.
When you burn them the oil in even dried ones burns like tiny tongues of flame - there is something here about fire and judgement - fire and the Holy Spirit - fire which quickly becomes cold lifeless ask.
In the English speaking world we place the ash on the forehead where we are Chrismated at Confirmation elsewhere it is place on the scalp where we are Chrismated at baptism. The place where we are annointed that is supposed to shine with the glory of God is marked with the filth of repentance.
There is a cycle of triumph, fire and ash that seems to be part of the Christian life contained in the Liturgy, somehow we hold all three in tension.
The ash reminds us we are dust and to dust we will return, tomorrow it will be gone, only Christ is unchanging, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
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