Every journey begins with a single step and those who would make a long journey would be wise to prepare for the trip mentally and physically. We have celebrated the advent of our Lord and his birth. In that time, we welcome our Lord with open arms but in the deep parts of our minds we already knew that he was headed along a path of suffering toward glorious death at our own hands. We've traveled alongside as Jesus has shared with us the words of life and taken step after step toward the cross. We've rounded a corner and in the distance we can see that dark day and its deadly intentions. We've known it was coming but now we cannot deny its immediacy.
As we prepare to journey with Jesus through the desert that leads to Golgotha, we must take time to prepare for what it will cost both us and our Lord. We know that Easter will follow shortly in the devastation of that fated day because Jesus has come to offer life more abundant and not even death and sin will prevail over him. But, we cannot see that day from here. So, we must take time to prepare for the journey.
On this day, Christians all over the world will gather together to take their first step in the season of Lent that anticipated Good Friday and places its hope in Easter. It is in this time that we invest ourselves in hope for we need strength for the journey. It is as this time that we take time to repent and lay aside the burdens that will wear us down as we seek resurrection. So, we take a sign upon our head--a cross made of last year's palm ashes--to remind us that the beginning of this journey toward death and resurrection begins with repentance. May this cross remind us that it is from the dust that we were made and it is to the dust that we return.