As we approach the holy season of Lent, we once again find ourselves in the wilderness. The stay-at-home orders from the Province may be lifted by the time you read this; however our buildings will remain closed to in person worship for the time being. That of course means we will not be gathering for Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of our Lenten journey.
On Ash Wednesday we are reminded of our mortality and that our time in this life is finite. The powerful symbol of ashes is marked on our foreheads in the sign of the cross. We hear the words from Genesis 3, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
This is a holy day and a holy season for Christians. I have always entered this season with a bit of spiritual unease. I am not a fan of having to stare at my own mortality. I would rather talk about life than contemplate death. Lent has us consider this part of our humanity that we often do not consider. But there is good news! What I find in this season, if I am open to seeing it, is God’s limitless grace. By considering my mortality, I realize that the only reason I can experience this gift of life is because God has chosen to give it to me. Without God’s holy breath that animates my life and allows me to experience all that life can be, I am only dust. There is a great humility to seeing this. The psalmist asks, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8) The answer to that questions comes on Ash Wednesday when I realize that God chose me. I am wanted here.
You are wanted. You are chosen. You have the same spirit flowing through you that was first breathed and brought forth creation. We do Lent so the we can see this. This is God’s grace given to us.
I hope you will find time to participate in our recoded Ash Wednesday service to be released on Wednesday February 17. While I will not be able to make the sign of ashes on your forehead this year, I will invite you to make the sign of the cross on your forehead during the service. Just as you were marked as God’s own forever at your baptism, you will be marked again as a reminder of whose you are. Though we cannot be together in this Lenten season, know that our God is on this Lenten road with us. May our prayer be that this road brings about new life!