As we walk this Lenten path with Jesus, to the cross and the life beyond, the ashes and dust of the church’s season seem truly appropriate in rural Australia.

Most of us have friends and family who have been fighting fires or caring for those who have been enduring them. Those of us in the west of our state taste the dust in everything, as we wait for the hope and refreshment offered when it rains. As the drought tightens its grip with the added weight of our changing climate, we know that this will be a tough time for our communities and congregations.

So, does our faith have anything to say? The hymn writer, Brian Wren, sings it this way:

Dust and ashes touch our face,
mark our failure and our falling.
Holy Spirit, come,
walk with us tomorrow,
take us as disciples,
washed and wakened by your calling.

Take us by the hand and lead us,
lead us through the desert sands,
bring us living water,
Holy Spirit, come.

The truth of Lent and Easter is that we are never abandoned, never forgotten by God. The forty days we walk to Jerusalem remind us of those things we need to hold on to, and those things we need to release, to refuse. We may also need to assume a new challenge.

The cross asserts that Jesus is always present in our worst moments. The resurrection proclaims that the worst moment is not the last one; God’s hope is more – hopeful, healing, forgiving and true.

May our crucified and risen Lord bless each of you in your journey into Easter, with the community of God’s presence and each other every step of the way.