Tag Archives: lent

Ash Wednesday Reflections: Rend Your Heart

It’s one of those phrases that I’ve heard countless times – usually around this time of year – “rend your heart”.

But what does that really mean to rend your heart?

The word rend literally means to “tear something into pieces”, to “separate into parts with violence”. This is not gently pulling away from something – it’s not me peeling myself away from my sleeping son to rest him in his cot – it’s pushing something as far away from myself as possible, making sure every connection is broken.

Joel 2 is a call for God’s people to return to Him in repentance – not to just make a show of repentance for the eyes of the world by tearing their clothes – but to realise the gravity of their sin in a way which breaks their hearts wide open – allowing God to fill the broken places.

Returning to God is not about coming to Him cowed by shame – it’s returning to the God who is grace, compassion and love.

As we are marked with the ashes today, we are reminded of our sin. The reality of our broken world, our broken relationships, our broken hearts.

We are also reminded to look forward however, to what God does with broken things and broken people.

This is not a season to be rushed – we must wait awhile in the dust, recognising the pain we cause, the pain we are in – but it’s never a hopeless pain.

Lent is a season of lament – and hope is found, as ever – not in the things we can do to fix ourselves or the world around us – but in our God who fills our broken places with Himself.

The rending can be painful, but the glory comes in what God does in those broken places.  The Japanese call is kintsugi – where broken spaces are filled with gold and made all the more beautiful in those broken places.

For now, though, we wait for the filling and sit among the broken pieces waiting for God to show His glory.

I love this blessing from Jan Richardson from her book “Circle of Grace”*, take a moment today to pray and reflect.

Rend Your Heart

A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

To receive this blessing,
all you have to do
is let your heart break.
Let it crack open.
Let it fall apart
so that you can see
its secret chambers,
the hidden spaces
where you have hesitated
to go.

Your entire life
is here, inscribed whole
upon your heart’s walls:
every path taken
or left behind,
every face you turned toward
or turned away,
every word spoken in love
or in rage,
every line of your life
you would prefer to leave
in shadow,
every story that shimmers
with treasures known
and those you have yet
to find.

It could take you days
to wander these rooms.
Forty, at least.

And so let this be
a season for wandering,
for trusting the breaking,
for tracing the rupture
that will return you

to the One who waits,
who watches,
who works within
the rending
to make your heart

—Jan Richardson


*affiliate link

Tracing the Tears – Love #OurHolyWeek

This Holy Week, I’m going to be blogging each day, tracing the tears Jesus shed for Jerusalem to the tear filled eyes who first saw the Risen Christ. Throughout I’ll be following prompts from #OurHolyWeek


It can make us do strange things, can’t it? Things that to the outside world look strange, even laughable.

Many movies document people doing crazy things out of love; from Sam in Love, Actually leaping airport security to declare his love for Joanne before she leaves for America, to Rachel gate-crashing Ross’ wedding Friends (and Rachel getting off a flight that’s about to board whilst we’re on the Friends theme).

And even by these standards, the way Jesus’ is anointed with perfume on two different occasions in the gospels, might be considered a little extreme.

There are two different accounts of Jesus being anointed. Luke writes of a sinful woman who weeps at Jesus’ feet, washes them with her hair and then pours expensive perfume over him – whilst the other gospel writers mention a similar event when Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus during Holy Week, again pouring expensive perfume over Jesus, but this time Jesus marks it out as a preparation for his coming death.

When the women anointed Jesus they demonstrated wholehearted love and devotion.

For the unnamed sinful woman, her act of devotion prompts Jesus to forgive her sins- whereas in John 12 Mary is chastised by Judas for wasting the money for the perfume to anoint Jesus – but Jesus calls it “a beautiful thing.”

These extravagant acts of love were not only monetarily costly, they humbled themselves. These women gave up their dignity as well as their money to show their love of Jesus.

They did a beautiful thing.

And it leaves with me a question.

When did you last do a beautiful thing for the Lord out of your love for Him?

“There is a sacredness in tears….They are the messengers of …unspeakable love.”

Washington Irving