David Ruis National Director Mar 02, 2022, 5:58 PM Last Edit: Mar 02, 2022, 7:16 PM by Tina-Marie Axenty Ashes & Beauty Moderator Occasional Poster Posts: 27 Church: Kelowna Vineyard Location: Kelowna, BC As a Jesus centric and kingdom focused community, Ash Wednesday embodies for us so much of the tension of our faith. Whether our foreheads are graced by the mark of ashes from the smouldering war-fire on streets of Ukraine or the sands of Sudan; the coat of ash that has settled on us as our lives have seemingly gone up in smoke in so many ways from the impact of the multiple brush fires set alight by the pandemic; the lingering, settling, smoke of the fires sparked by our sharp tongues lashing out in the pressure of our times; or the layer of slag that marks us from simply journeying through the shadow of Deaths valley; we are keenly aware of our mortality as we walk the Jesus Way down the path of eternal life. Maybe now more than ever. Lord have mercy. Entering the season of Lent in 2022, keenly aware of our mortal state and need of the eternal life that Jesus offers, let us be intentional about learning from His experience of 40 days in the desert. Our prayer is that we may see, discern, where we have given into temptation as God's people and have lost our bearings as disciples of Jesus. Where, instead of choosing the good way, we have, even if unwillingly, opened a door, or multiple door's, to evil. So much of our current events and life experience is a "reaping of a whirlwind" that we have been sowing into for quite some time in the Canadian Church. Embracing the idols of celebrity culture, the injustice of power based modes of operation, conflating political power with the way of the Kingdom of Heaven, losing sight of our ultimate, eternal destination and calling, we have cultivated an understanding of the gospel that is, if we're honest, quite self serving, rights driven and anything but shaped by the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. Yet the words of the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 61:3 ring true. There is provision for those who "grieve in Zion." Those who are willing to step into the space of Godly sorrow that results in repentance that leads to salvation - true liberation - and leaves no room for regret (2 Corinthians 7:10), will see beauty instead of only ashes. Blessed are those who mourn for they will find comfort. They will be massaged and cleansed with the oil of joy. As lament is turned heavenward, the oil of joy pours down. In our despair we will discover the power of praise and the strength to stand tall in these times. Oaks of justice. Prophetic sign posts displaying the splendor of our Father's Kingdom. The Jesus Way. The freedom of the Spirit. So, as we kneel in repentance let us so too lift our hands in praise. As we mark our foreheads with ash, let us open our eyes to the beauty around us to see where Jesus is making things new. As we groan the groanings of deep intercession let us also hear the sounds of labor that signal new birth - new beginnings. For the kingdom is at hand. It is within reach. This Light shall overcome these shadows. Let the kingdom come.