22 February 2012

Ashes to Ashes - it's that simple

Just returned home from an afternoon Ash Wednesday service. The service, for the Ladies Guild, was held at the Scout Hut. Most appropriate on this day – the joint birthdays of the Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell and his wife, Olave Baden-Powell - founders of the Scouts and Girl Guides movements. (I was a Brownie and Girl Scout!)

As I sat listening to the words calling us to take these forty days from Easter to pause, reflect, repent and re-focus, I was challenged (yet again) by the concept of self-denial and sacrifice – which is of course at the heart of Christian faith (or should be).

“What are you giving up for Lent?”  - I remember being at school, and all the half-hearted Lenten intentions that fell swiftly by the wayside. 
Or, the rather dubious attempts to “give up” things one didn’t like very much in the first place: vegetables, exercise, homework, doing laundry, and the like. 
Or, better still, the giving up of things one perhaps might be better off not doing at all: gossiping, swearing, fibbing, fighting, &etc.

I felt truly challenged today by this very familiar and age-old concept, and hope that I can truly strive to take this act of self-denial seriously. 
Challenged I was also by the simplicity of the Scout Promise that holds pride of place in the Barford Scouts Hut:
“I promise to do my best to be kind and helpful and to love God.”
From the Liturgy for Ash Wednesday - "We are but dust, and to dust we shall return." 
Perhaps, in matters of faith, with two these principles at the fore, things really are quite simple.

Olave Baden-Powell
 (22 February 1889 – 25 June 1977)

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