“Ring around the rosy, a pocketful of posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” Few people realize that this nursery rhyme dates all the way back to 1347. The Black Plague in Europe claimed more than 25 million lives. “Ashes, ashes” (or “atischoo, atischoo”) is an imitation of the sneezing sounds of the infected person, followed by people “falling down” in death. The season of Lent, perhaps more than any other season of the church year, confronts us with our sin.
As we walk with Jesus in Lent, we will contemplate his suffering in our place. We will put on “sackcloth and ashes,” reminded that as sinners before God we are nothing but “dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). We will contemplate the inexpressible love of Jesus who died for ashen sinners on Good Friday. However, Lent is not the end. Rather, it prepares us for Easter. Through our risen Savior, we too rise from the ashes. “[He will] bestow on [us] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).
Evaluate your life. Repent of all the ways you have missed the mark. Completely despair of saving yourself so that you must look to Jesus, the only One who can save. Then be at peace with God, knowing all is forgiven.