Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the day the story comes full circle. It starts on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, with Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem while the jubilant crowd waves palm branches to greet him. Our palm leaves are folded into crosses because a few days later Jesus was crucified. These palm crosses are kept through the year because they tell the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Now, when nearly a year has passed, last year’s palms are burnt to make the ash for Ash Wednesday when our foreheads are marked with the sign of the cross in ash, a sign that this is all about each individual person.
Whatever else we believe about Jesus, the fact of history is that he was crucified because he believed that being willing to die was necessary to show his love for all human beings. Whatever we think about it, that is what Jesus believed. His sacrifice may inspire faith, or indifference, but how we respond reveals much about us.
Many people through the centuries have been willing to give their lives for the good of other people and their sacrifice made life more tolerable for those who came after. Many more people have cared for nothing but themselves, and they have caused much suffering. For all of us, Ash Wednesday can be a reminder that selfishness is the way to misery, but much more, that the love that inspired Jesus is the way to joy.
Canon Christopher Ivory
Kings Lynn Minster

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