St Marks Lenten Thoughts

Ash Wednesday

Psalm 103 Joel 2:1-2,12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12 2 Cor. 5:20b-6:10 Matt 6:1-6,16-21

I was about 8 years old the first time I remember having a discussion about Ash Wednesday and the ashes that we would receive the next day. I can’t remember which priest here at St Mark’s School explained the do’s and the don’ts of the ash removal, but my takeaway was they were not to be washed off till that night. I lived by this, protecting my ashes on my forehead all day. It was my badge, my stamp, my validation, that I was a good Episcopalian girl.

As I got older and began to read, study, and listen to the lessons and gospel in the Bible, I noticed in several scriptures it was in direct conflict with my beloved ritual I received once a year to confirm my “Good Episcopalian” status. In Matthew we read, Jesus says “beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen”. It goes on to read “so whenever you give alms do not sound a trumpet before you as the Hypocrites do”. You can imagine the confusion I had as a young adult reading this. One of my favorite songs we sang at Camp Hardtner helped bring Clarity to my ash dilemma. Part of the lyrics read “we will guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride”. That “we will work with each other” and that “we all pray our unity will one day be restored”. The chorus is what really brought clarity to me. It expresses true Christianity. “They will know we are Christians by our love”.

So, my now take away of the ashes placed on my forehead every year on Ash Wednesday. They do not validate or stamp me a good Episcopalian nor does wearing them all day for the world to see make me a hypocrite. But the love I show to others is what brands us as a Christian and unites us all.

Ashley E. Kisla

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s