Ash Wednesday Reflection

Posted by Scott Hovey on February 08, 2024

“Ash Wednesday should be the least appealing of Christian holidays—no gifts, no festive carols, no special meals. Nobody gets a greeting card for Ash Wednesday: all you get is someone smearing dirt on your forehead and telling you that you’re going to die.”

Sara Miles is the founder and director of The Food Pantry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. In her book City of God: Faith in the Streets, she tells the story of her church taking Ash Wednesday to the streets of San Francisco. The response was surprising.

“Even in a strongly secular city like San Francisco, hundreds and hundreds of people, not all of them Christians, come up––even chase me down the sidewalk––to get those ashes.”

Miles discovered that there was a truthfulness in the ritual of Ash Wednesday, an honesty, that despite all of our frantic efforts to escape from death- not one of us will. 

There is a solidarity in our mortality.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. It is a somber and truthful time when we quiet our hearts and reflect on the fact that we are not our own saviors. We reflect on our limitations and the ultimate futility of our striving. It is, finally, preparation for Easter- that after the 40 days of Lent we are clearer about who does the saving.

Join us on Wednesday, February 14 at 6:45 in the Chapel for our Ash Wednesday service. 

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