Robes, Rocks and Ashes
Tonight we celebrate the beginning of Lent with an Ash Wednesday service. The altar-piece captures the essence of the truth of Ash Wednesday with a plate of ashes, harsh stones and a purple robe. The purple robe speaks of not only royalty, but also of mourning. We gather tonight and mourn our sinfulness. This counters our cultural (if not inbuilt) tendency toward blame. The rocks speak of our relative insignificance. Rocks are just rocks, you can find them anywhere and everywhere. This counters our cultural tendency toward pride. It's way hard to admit that we are insignificant when our media tells us that we are something deserving whatever we want. And the ashes speak to our need for cleansing. The ashes from the slaughtered Red Heifer in Numbers 19 tell how their sprinkling on the people made them clean. We claim our need for cleansing, not with a sacrificed animal, but the sacrifice of Jesus. We cannot clean ourselves.