Ashes: Brokenness in the World
by Fayelle Ewuakye
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 🌿 Psalm 51:1-17 🌿 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 🌿 Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Homes with framed pictures of babies on the walls.
Soft sandals by the door, a worn pencil on a desk.
A bowl of dates on the counter, old love letters in a box under the bed. Ashes.
Mourning. Solemn self-reflection. Spiritual discipline.
A longing for peace, for the forgiveness of apathy, of negligence. Ashes.
The ashes of Ash Wednesday stir personal reflection, but my spirit is troubled, and I cannot help but think outside myself. I sit comfortably in my safe home, contemplating the ashes on my forehead. As I retrace the visible mark, my mind goes to those in Palestine, now without a home staring at the ashes of where they lived, the ashes of everything they had and life as they had known it.
Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza are not the only people in the Middle East who are suffering. Many in Lebanon experience extreme poverty because of inflation and the ongoing economic crisis there. Ashes.
Food shortages and famine impact the lives of thousands in Yemen because of the effects of years of ongoing war
and turmoil. Ashes.
Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh are cut off from their country and their people. Ashes.
God forgive us.
As we spend the next weeks heading towards the hope and beauty of Easter, fixing our eyes on the saving grace that is Christ, may we not forget the call to go into the world and love mercy, walk humbly, and seek justice. May we sit among the ashes, taking the time to pray for miraculous movements in government while also being the hands and feet needed. May we take the time to educate ourselves about the lives of the people of both Palestine and Israel. May we raise our voices in advocacy to our elected leaders, praying for holistic change and elevating those doing good work on the ground. May we vow not to be silent or stagnant any longer.
Oh Lord, make heavy our hearts to be a people who will not stand by quietly and allow those that represent us and use our dollars to cause any more harm. Help us no longer use discomfort or sacrifice as reasons to turn away. The situation is overwhelming – help us discern what you are calling us to and what our next steps should be, and may we be willing and ready to make those steps, regardless of how big or small. Amen.