Reflections on Ash Wednesday

Reflections on Ash Wednesday

To the Saints of Geeseytown and Newry Lutheran Parish

Thoughts on Ash Wednesday:

So here we are at the first day of Lent and we come to this strange ritual where we place ashes on our head and are told “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return”.  Ash Wednesday is one of the two days in the church year (the other being Good Friday) when we encounter death square in the face and are reminded that no matter who or what we are we all face the day when our life ends and our time on this planet is over.

 

So why do we do this fairly morbid ritual?  Because by focusing on our death and the reality of the shortness of our time on earth, we are forced to look to the one who is our only hope – Jesus Christ.  You see the ultimate truth of all things is that they eventually rot, decay, or die.  It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a person, or a car, or a civilization – eventually all things come to an end.   But we know that don’t we?  We are fully aware that what lives must die, that what begins must end.  Are we?  I mean we have plenty of evidence that even the great accomplishment of Rome crumble before our eyes, that the feats of great heroes of the past like Socrates and Alexander the Great fall into memory.  So clearly we KNOW that we too must end – don’t we?

 

Of course we don’t.  Most of us live lives believing death is something – that will yes one day happen – but it is something that we put on the back burner.  In one way this is good because we can’t live our lives thinking all the time about how we are going to die one day.  But Ash Wednesday says loudly and clearly – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE – DEAL WITH IT.

 

Deal with the fact that all is crumbling around us, deal with the fact that this world is passing away, deal with the fact that all that we know will be nothing and dust at some point in the future.  If that was the end of all things it would be very depressing.

 

But death is not the end.  As Christians we know that we will die, we know that this earthly life will end BUT THAT IS NOT THE END.  Because as all the things may pass into oblivion we will pass into the arms of Jesus.  You see the rite of Ash Wednesday is saying “dust you are to dust you shall return” but it is more fully proclaiming that “dust you are to dust you shall return – but thanks be to God we have been given Jesus Christ.”  Because, through Jesus life, death, and resurrection we have had the door to eternal life kicked open.  We have been given citizenship in the Kingdom of God and in his heavenly kingdom.  We will live because Jesus lives.

 

At the same time though through this season we understand that we were bought with a price.  Yes Jesus is God and it is the fullness of God’s love that led Christ to the cross to save us.  But though Christ saved us and did it willingly – he still went to the cross.  Jesus was crucified for you and I.  What Lent reminds us is that we were loved so much that God would give everything to save us and as we march toward the cross, we hopefully see more fully the price that Jesus paid for us.

 

So as we proceed through this season we see the cruciform savior.  We see Jesus with his arms outstretched to the entire world but realize that is because they have been nailed to the cross.  We see our Lord who reached out to hold us with pierced hands.  In this season we know that we are loved and that is this love of God, and this love alone, that prevents us from becoming nothing but dust.  However we begin to see what it cost our savior to save us.  It cost all of himself. 

 

As I said last Sunday in the sermon – when I think about it “Sometimes it causes me to Tremble, Tremble, Tremble”  when I consider what God in Christ Jesus has done for me. 

 

May God bless you and keep you through this Lenten Season

Pr. Mike

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