Ashes to Ashes..

Dust to Dust..

In all kinds of ways it is not a surprise that ASH WEDNESDAY is a less than riotously attended service.  After all, given how much of our lives are spent & wrung out by striving to cram as much life into every minute as we can.. and simultaneously stretching out our days as long as possible.. it should not be expected that a service - at whose core is stark reminder that we are mortal - will be an easy sell.

 And yet.. as I have been teaching our confirmands lately, it is possible to argue that this is one of the most foundational and crucial worship moments of our liturgical/church year.  The argument being that at creation the goodness & “wholeness” (in Hebrew “shalom”) of the garden was built on the simple covenant that if we “let God be God” and we keep it clear that we are the creature (the mortals) all will continue to be.. “VERY GOOD”.  That of course, didn’t quite last.  And with the first opportunity “to be like God” (the promise the serpent actually makes to Eve) humanity jumps at the chance - the chance to be our own gods..  the chance to be “bosses of” ourselves.  And in doing so, we crash the whole system!?

Ash Wednesday - as stark & dark as it sounds and can feel - is actually thus a new chance - a new chance to go back to.. the beginning.. a chance to remind ourselves of who/what we really are.. a chance for us to remember where it all goes wrong and open ourselves to having God (in Christ) begin the RE-creation.  We receive the ashes as a reminder that we who began as dust in the hand of God, once again need the hand of God to RE-create us.

We gather to both remember the mortality that we so undeniably must face (in the ashes).  AND to hear how ready and joyous God is to welcome God’s prodigal sons and daughters home (the love & grace offered to us so tangibly in communion).  We gather to begin the season of Lent exactly where we need to.. remembering the brokenness of life SO THAT we can then open ourselves to the only one who can truly give us the healing of heart, spirit and life we long for.

 I encourage you to give this service “a chance”.  Let it become the 1st of your Lenten “disciplines” for this year (don’t just “give something up”, take something new and life giving on).  Join us and begin the hard walk the next will most certainly be as we journey with Christ to and through the cross.. so that.. SO THAT we will indeed be ready for Easter to be the miracle & joy we need it to be.

 (Oh and while your marking your calendar also think about taking a few minutes on the subsequent Wednesdays of Lent to join us for Soup & Holden prayer too.  I promise it will be a gift you give yourself.)

 -       Pastor Stewart