Ashes. We are dust. We are mortal. We are limited. We are not as strong as we like to think.
Therefore, woeful creature, bow before God and confess your failings!
These were the random thoughts that popped into my head as I prepare my heart to serve at the Ash Wednesday worship service. The service has never been packed out, because I am Presbyterian and the guilt thing has been played out? Not exactly, but I do think that people are less inclined to willingly attend a service that in part seeks to remind us of our limitations and need of a savior.
People are reminded of their limitations, failures, and mortality all through out the year by life.
As my van was getting a worked on yesterday I overheard a woman on a phone call say; “You know I just keep thinking what else!?! Why is life piling it on?”
Every day we are reminded of just how our lives are temporary and fragile. Losing a job, friend, pet, relationship…the list is endless. It is any wonder that so many people decide that if they go to church on any given day it should be one that encourages them, lifts their spirits, and helps them face the road ahead.
Which brings us back to Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. Such downers compared to Easter. Everything in Easter is so bright, floral, and jubilant! Why can’t church be like that all the time?
Well, for one, then we would feel out-of-place and disingenuous if we had to rejoice, smile, dance and sing upbeat songs all the time. Remember, life is not like that and I don’t know about you, but I want to reach out to a God that can handle my hard times, the funk that I am in, my depression.
Thank Christ, we do have that kind of God. We should provide an environment for people to express their anger, frustration, sadness, and disappointment with life and God.
The other piece about Ash Wednesday that many people who shy away from it miss is that our frailty is only part of the event. There is also the part about our acknowledging that Jesus came into this world as the perfect sacrifice to restore us to the path of God.
We can’t live up to any moral code, we fall short time and again. When was the last time you took offense over something that someone else did unintentionally? Then, instead of letting it go, you allowed that offense to hang around for so long that you think of that person as your enemy?
That is called “falling short” of the path of God.
Thankfully we do have a savior and I enjoy seasons like Lent and services like Ash Wednesday that remind us just how far God went to get us back on God’ path.
Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.
Thank God our path doesn’t end with that statement.
My prayer for you this day comes from the Letter to the Ephesians
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.