I happened to hear the song “At the Foot of the Cross” among a mix of other songs today. Even though I’ve heard this song countless times at church and campus ministry gatherings, one line struck me this time — probably because today is Ash Wednesday.
“Now I can trade these ashes in for beauty”
I’ve always thought the line was just a metaphor — trading death for life, ugliness for beauty. That’s powerful stuff. But, what’s more, when we celebrate Lent, we live the metaphor.
We literally, physically have ashes today. Churches are somber, changing the colors on display and omitting the “alleluias.” But, in the coming season we “can trade these ashes in for beauty.”
First, we trade the ashes in by acknowledging “ashy” things in our lives (i.e. sin), repenting of them, and aiming to replace them with more beautiful, life-giving things.
And, in 40 days, we’ll trade the ashes in by celebrating that Christ himself traded in the ashes of the grave for the beauty of resurrection.