On Wednesday 1st March we will mark the beginning of Lent with a Service during which we will be marked on the forehead with a cross of ashes. It's a symbol of penitence and mortality.
The Service marks the beginning of the forty days of Lent. During the Service we will hear these words “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” As I say, it's a reminder of our mortality. Lent is for Christians a time of prayer and reflection. Forty days of prayer and reflection, an opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection.
Our Christian faith is centred on the reality of the empty Tomb on the first Easter Day and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is strange, isn't it, that Jesus at the end of his earthly life could have been called a failure? His life ended in pain and disgrace on the Cross. He had recruited a very unlikely group of disciples who had run away, frightened and demoralised by his death on the Cross.
Yet from this terrible end to an apparently failed ministry has emerged Christianity; a religion that has followers in every country and every continent; a truly miraculous victory of life over death. It is the reality of the empty tomb and of the resurrection of Jesus that changed his followers, changed history and changed human life for ever.
The forty days of Lent give us an opportunity to reflect on our human mortality, and enable us to look forward with hope to the reality of the Resurrection and the promise of eternal life that it gives us all.