More than any other season of  the liturgical year, Lent draws us into a landscape that is distinctive for the many ways that it intertwines extremes and calls our attention to how brokenness and beauty, horror and hope, privilege and oppression dwell intimately together. From the moment we follow Jesus into the wilderness, we step across a threshold that calls out to us to see beyond the stark black and white of our daily rituals and lives. 

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this bittersweet season. Ashes are the first sign and symbol of Lent, but they are not the final word. Come Ash Wednesday, we will bear this mark of what has been left behind from the burning — this reminder of the dust and earth from which we rise and to which we will return. Yet even the ash, just like the lonely tree of winter, has a memory of its own. Deep within its darkness lies the imprint of green, the memory of life, the awareness of what has gone before and of what may yet be.

Ash Wednesday propels us into a holy season that inspires us to learn once again that what God creates and graces and blesses may be broken but not destroyed. Life finds its way — ancient memory takes hold, follows the path of the ash and leaves its mark in our lives. “We are treated…as dying,” Paul writes, “and see — we are alive; as punished and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”

We invite you into the Lenten journey this year on Wednesday, February 22, as we gather to remember whose we are and to whom we shall return. As is our tradition, we’ll gather with friends and neighbors from Westminster Presbyterian and Pilgrim Congregational UCC to mark the beginning of our 40-day journey into the wilderness with Jesus. Westminster (5300 Delmar Blvd. 63112) will host this year’s joint Ash Wednesday service beginning at 6:30 p.m. Please join us as we enter this solemn season of reflection and paradox.

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