Ashes, A Series of Lament
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday; an important day in the life of the Christian Church. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent – a 40 day journey that takes us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called Synoptic Gospels (synoptic: to be seen together) and are absolutely consistent in their account of the specific journey that Jesus travels. Jesus, with full and complete purpose, is heading towards the city of God: Jerusalem. Shortly before he arrives into town, he looks over Jerusalem – the city that once housed the glory of God. It was David’s city. It was the city where the Temple was built. It was the city where God resided. And yet, Jesus was broken hearted over this city. In fact, he wept over it.
Why did he weep?
Was it because he would face persecution there?
Was it because he would be convicted – even as an innocent man?
Was it because he would die a criminal’s death?
Probably. But there was more than that.
The people of Jerusalem were facing the same things that you and I face. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because the once glorious city of God was full of despair, rebellion, chaos, violence, disappointment, and even death. These were his children. He was their creator. They were living death. He would embody it.
Each of us face:
These things leave us disappointed and disillusioned.
The realities of life evoke within us a passionate expression of grief and sorrow, and yet the amazing, spectacular, most astonishing thing is that Creator God, in the person of Jesus, suffers FOR us and WITH us.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem. In such, he weeps over us.
He has a plan to save us but the route is not over, under, or around lament. He walks us THROUGH lament, only for us to be healed on the other side.
It is important that we acknowledge this in our lives, but at the same time acknowledge the grace that comes before us in God’s presence – the presence of Jesus. Jesus travels with us on this journey of suffering, and in the end he embraces the worst of it.
On Ash Wednesday, in ashes (a symbol of our death) and oil (a symbol of our healing), we are marked with the cross. “From dust you came and dust you’ll return,” says the minister, “So repent, because life, new life, resurrected life, comes in Jesus Christ.”
Join with us as we journey through this Series of Lament.