In the middle of our busy week, we paused as a community to observe Ash Wednesday together, and to prepare ourselves for the time of Jesus’ passion and resurrection as we journey in the Christian tradition through a season of penitence and fasting towards the events of Holy Week and Easter.
Ash Wednesday is about leaving baggage behind and braving the unknown carrying nothing but the mark of God’s beloved; taking to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the Gospel, and so growing in faith and with more respect, love, generosity, openness, hospitality and hope in our hearts.
Staff and Years 5-9 came together in YPH to hear a story about kindness incorporating the word “Ubuntu”, an African word meaning ‘human kindness’, although its meaning is much bigger in scope than that – it embodies the ideas of connection, community and mutual caring for all. This was drawn together with the Bible reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the early Christians in Rome where he talks about the marks of a true Christian and living peaceably with all.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday and placing them on the heads of participants to the accompaniment of the words “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The ashes are a reminder of the simpleness of life. As we are marked with these ashes, we remember that we are not perfect. The cross on our forehead reminds us that we have all sinned and that we all get things wrong.
Students were also encouraged to take a small wooden black pocket cross to pop in a pocket, so that when touched or held, it will help in reflecting during these six weeks of Lent which begin today, and in which we can ask ourselves the following questions:
- What do I hope to do during Lent this year?
- How can I make a difference to those around me this Lent?
- What can I do for those less fortunate than me?
Everyone had the choice to come forward for ashing, or to receive communion or both. Being ‘ashed’ came first as we come to God, letting go of all those parts of life that we so desperately cling to, things like ego, pride and possessions; before stepping forward to receive communion knowing that in letting go there is a freedom that can leave us feeling fully alive and more available to other people, and them to us. In this way we are reminded of our relationship and community, both with God and with one another.
Lenten Call: Stations of the Cross
During these next 6 weeks of Lent, the whole school community will be creating our own Stations of the Cross for Lent week which is the last week of term. The Stations of the Cross are commonly used as a mini-pilgrimage or meditation during Holy Week to help us reflect on Jesus’ last days from his condemnation through to the crucifixion and on to Jesus resurrection.
This is an example of one of them and there are 8 in total so one for Juniors and then each year group from year 7 to 13. There are images to show you what they could look like and to help you understand what’s happening in the image but you can choose how to colour them in – use your imagination! I hope you’ll enjoy the stillness and calm as you journey through Lent and as you colour them in. Revd Karen.