Feb. 17, 2021
Yesterday was "ASH Wednesday" when Christians have ashes smudged on their foreheads and hear the words, "Remember, from dust you came, and to dust you will return." Then we are reminded that we are sinners. What Fun! Not.
Just to add to the “fun”, Ash Wed, the beginning of Lent is then followed by forty days for “fasting”. My granddaughter told us last night that her mum had been considering what she might give up, fast from, for Lent. The other day Green Anglicans posted a call for repentance and called for a Lenten “carbon fast”. To cut those carbon emissions. I think the premise is that we get in the habit over that 40 days and carry on with healthy habits after Lent.
We are also supposed to take time to reflect on our imperfections AKA as our “sins” during Lent. Sins, those things that cause us to hurt others and/or ourselves.
Archbishop Mark MacDonald, the national church’s Indigenous archbishop when describing sin will tell you that the biggest sins involve multinationals, corporate greed and the willful destruction of the environment.
But, that small cross of black ash drawn on our foreheads on Ash Wed, preferably in the morning, meant to be left there for the rest of the day, is an outward sign that acknowledges that we are all involved in varying degrees. As we say in general confession, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. Sounds pretty depressing doesn’t it? But I suspect we can all confess that we are, in fact, involved in damaging the planet in varying degrees. As much as I try to avoid plastic, I think of that, and the harm I am doing, every time I put a piece in the garbage.
You see, Ash Wednesday is also supposed to remind us that life, all life, the air, the land, the water, all plants, the trees, animals and humans, are precious and should be cherished.
Instead of reading it, I chose to have the reading from Isaiah sung to you tonight. The song is writing and performed by Steve Bell, a man committed to loosing the bonds of injustice as it says in the reading from Isaiah that this song is based on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z76DT5mEcgY
The reading from Isaiah reminds the people then and us today that although we believe we might seek God by giving something up at times like Lent, seeking God through our fasts, whether that be chocolate or a carbon fast, we must not forget that Isaiah clearly instructed us to “seek justice (mispat)). I’m sure that Archbishop Mark would include environmental justice. (Isaiah 1:17).
In his song, Steve Bell tells us that his fast is not a fast from food, but from indifference. By choosing to fast from indifference, like Steve Bell, we can contribute to the transformation that the writer of Isaiah longs for in this world.