Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Because I do not hope to turn..."

I received an e-mail from a friend, a fellow pastor. I won't quote it in full, because I haven't asked his permission to do so. But he calls the ashes of Ash Wednesday a "black badge of courage," a sign of one's conviction, faith, and belief. A sign the wearer believes in God, through Jesus Christ.

He presents this in the context of Christian belief being a "touchy thing;" perhaps, he says, it is even dangerous, even in America. I know of people who would immediately argue with the sentiment, affirming my friend's statement even as they mean to deny it. Dangerous? Well, perhaps; depending on how you, as a Christian, choose to affirm and display your faith.

Do you have the courage, for example, to be humble? Do you have the courage to be last of all and servant of all? At one point in church history, Lent concluded with a service in which the King of England would gather beggars into the sanctuary, and kneel down, and wash their feet, as Jesus did in the Gospel of John. Do any of us have the courage to do that, now? To end our Lenten fast that way? To begin our Lenten journey in that spirit?

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of this from Chesterton:

    Historic Christianity rose into a high and strange coup de théatre of morality -- things that are to virtue what the crimes of Nero are to vice. The spirits of indignation and of charity took terrible and attractive forms, ranging from that monkish fierceness that scourged like a dog the first and greatest of the Plantagenets, to the sublime pity of St. Catherine, who, in the official shambles, kissed the bloody head of the criminal. Poetry could be acted as well as composed. This heroic and monumental manner in ethics has entirely vanished with supernatural religion. They, being humble, could parade themselves: but we are too proud to be prominent. Our ethical teachers write reasonably for prison reform; but we are not likely to see Mr. Cadbury, or any eminent philanthropist, go into Reading Gaol and embrace the strangled corpse before it is cast into the quicklime. Our ethical teachers write mildly against the power of millionaires; but we are not likely to see Mr. Rockefeller, or any modern tyrant, publicly whipped in Westminster Abbey.