Dust storm

It’s the day for ashes, maybe even dust storms. For us in the Lutheran tradition, we make a special effort to be at worship. As ashes are marked in the shape of a cross on our foreheads, we hear the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” It is a good thing to be reminded that I am human and will die. It helps set priorities. But this year, after spending so much time listening to John’s gospel, those words don’t seem to fit, even though I may have to say them 100 times today. Why? Because the beloved disciple behind the gospel of John is so sure that everyone who trusts (believes) Christ is truly and fully living life with and in Christ now. For the beloved disciple, life is the last word and is totally about trusting Christ.

So I imagined the beloved disciple walking into St. Paul’s tonight, grabbing the ashes out of my hand, and marking ash on the next person and saying, “Life is trusting Christ. Remember, any part of you that does not trust Christ is dust, and to dust it shall return.” And that truth, of course, is also a very good thing. It reminds me that the things I am doing now without regard for trusting Christ are not worth much in the long run and are often damaging. They are dust and ashes. So what if the light of Christ, spoken about so frequently by this beloved disciple, were to shine right into our lives tonight, beaming to ash things that don’t belong there because we are not trusting, changing to dust things that hang around because in some corner of our life we are afraid to trust Christ’s words? Things like impatience, self-preoccupation, discouragement, fear of the economy…you name it. What if, in fact, the ashes that we are marked with tonight could be what’s left after the Light has done its good work in us, after shaking the dark distrust out of us, pouring trust in Christ in? Well, if that’s the case, there could be quite a dust storm…around me anyway. Now that would make worship a little different today!


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  2. This is my first visit to the blog, and a good time to say how much the Ash Wednesday service meant to me. I’ve tried to take the Lenten discipline to heart, and committed to praying throughout every day for those things and people that are on my mind. And Evan and his efforts with the York College students are on my mind today! Imagine my surprise when, as I bent my head at lunch, my new office mates asked me what I was up to! I’ve spent the last few weeks in the presence of two Christians who I do not know well (we just reorganized our administrative staff into new groups). We had a great conversation about what Lent means to us. What a wonderful first step toward living in the Light!