Just a Thought – Ash Wednesday

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner SUS-160129-112502001
The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner SUS-160129-112502001

Ash Wednesday reminds me of 2010 when volcanic ash from Iceland caused havoc in Europe’s airlines.

Friends of mine working in the City were stranded abroad or unable to get to important meetings. The impact of nature was extraordinary.

We’d taken for granted our right to travel by air, and had become dependent upon it. Then ash and the wind rendered us powerless. It was uncomfortable and a bit embarrassing.

In the Bible, Old Testament characters like Abraham speak of being like “dust and ashes” when they pray to God.

It’s a phrase that describes human limitation when compared with the immensity of the idea of God as creator of every star in the sky.

In a similar way, the ash that grounded aircraft all over Europe expressed something of that sense that we were being brought face to face with our own limitations.

Ash Wednesday has a similar function. It’s not a punishment; it’s a release. This is a mechanism by which the Church invites us to stop, for a moment, and get things back into perspective.

The night sky is an impressive statement about God its creator.

Even more amazing is the knowledge that this same God stoops to seek the friendship of you and me who are dust and ashes, but glorious and beautiful in God’s sight.

Faith Matters

Real Easter Egg

Lent is often an opportunity to refrain from a few indulgences, but it also means that Easter is around the corner and the shops will soon be full of Easter Eggs. Each year, around 80 million Easter Eggs are sold in the UK alone. The ‘Real Easter Egg’ is slightly different. It points back to the first Easter and includes a copy of the original Easter story as well as a Fairtrade chocolate egg. It’s available to buy from www.realeaster.co.uk, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons and some independent shops.

Plough Service

On Sunday 7th February at 3.30pm in Chichester Cathedral there will be a special service to mark the agricultural life of Sussex and to pray for fertile crops and good harvests. All are welcome but it should be of particular interest to those involved in farming and the agricultural industry. Further details are available from Chichester Cathedral.

Ash Wednesday Services

On Wednesday 10th February, churches across Sussex will be holding special services to mark Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. This is a great opportunity to come and find out more about this important season in the Christian calendar. Look out for local services in your area, you’d be most welcome.