Ash Wednesday is traditionally a time to grieve our brokenness and remember our finitude and mortality as dust returns to dust. Symbolically, it is the beginning of the Lenten journey which has the shadow of Good Friday’s death hanging over it.

This year, more than most in recent history, these images are not far from our mind. We do not have to look far to see the ravages of humanity’s sinfulness nor the fragility of life. As we look across Europe to Ukraine we are painfully reminded of the tragedy of human brokenness.

However, as we grieve our brokenness we recall that we do not put our hope in humanity, but rather we rest in the knowledge of God’s saving grace. As we remember our finitude and mortality, we recall that the limits of our life and times are not limits upon God’s purposes. Everything about Ash Wednesday calls us to look beyond ourselves and our times to place our trust once more in the God who calls His creation to Himself.

This is not a call to resigned inaction or heavenly-minded apathy, but rather a call to faithfulness, witnessing to our eternal hope that when all seems hopeless, our God is never unfaithful. When peace seems distant, we witness to our God who is close to hand and hears our cries. Neither is it a triumphal victory cry nor deliverance from our finitude, but it is being assured that we remain in God’s hands in this life and forevermore.

In a world of turmoil and tragedy, we pray for God’s transcendent peace and faithful presence to transform our world into His dwelling place for the sake of all creation.