A war in Ukraine and extensive flooding in eastern Australia make a sense of loss very real and any desire to feast before the fast makes no sense. Loss is all around us at present -life, livelihoods, homes and homeland, peace, sovereignty, stability, respect, trust, and a moral compass-and these many losses may be a starting point from which to enter Lent.
As we mark the sign of the cross our foreheads in ash, we enter immediately into the paschal mystery ofChrist’s death and resurrection, entering into the terrible conflict in Ukraine, the cost of human suffering of people everywhere, and the brazen body-mindedness of leaders, bullying their way to power. We enter into life’s ongoing stupidity and its choices for violence and conflict over dialogue and respect. And we also enter into that mystery of sickness and suffering where we can find no easy target to blame –flooding, bushfires, drought, pandemics, misfortune, cancer, death and so on.
We bring these experiences -where abundant life has turned to ashes-into this season of Lent and with great courage and discipline allow Jesus to disciple us into people of faith, hope and love. The cost of this discipleship will be to uncover and face the uncomfortable part we play in colluding with evil and to die to that collusion. The joy of this discipleship comes in participating in the power of faith, hope and love to change the world. If we are going to die and rise this Lent, let us do so bravely and honestly.