Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Today begins the season of Lent. This day, called Ash Wednesday, allows us the opportunity to think about our mortality and how Jesus has brought us from death to life (Romans 2:1-10).
Ashes are a symbol of death and decay, but also allude to new life. Think about a forest fire, once the ashes have settled into the ground, they help new life to spring up from that ground. Where there was only death, there is now life. This is why ashes are used to begin the season of Lent (derived from the Middle English "lente" - meaning "Springtime").
As the ashes are placed on the forehead in the shape of a cross, it is a reminder that although we are broken and messy, God makes beautiful things spring from our messy, broken world. No one is too far from the wholeness and life offered by Christ. Thanks be to God!