C Cycle – Ash Wednesday 16

During the past year I have had many reminders of how each of us have come from dust and to dust we shall return.  My favorite Uncle David’s death left me feeling empty and knowing I had not done enough to let him know how much he meant to me.  My longest and best friend Lionel and I were planning to get together with our wives to celebrate our marriage anniversaries (we got married weeks apart) at the Grand Old Opry. Instead of going to the Opry I presided at his funeral.  Instead of celebrating our friendship, I told everyone at his funeral how close he was to my heart and how much his life impacted mine.

No I do not need someone putting ashes on my forehead and reminding me of the eventuality of my death.  We all know we are destined to die and I believe none of us want to be reminded.  Every time we attend a funeral of a relative or friend or even a work associate we are reminded of our own mortality.  I know from my own experience of visiting those in hospice the knowledge of what they are facing is a time of reflection about our own worthiness.

I also know from experience that those feelings of unworthiness are normal and if we are not rooted in Christ they can defeat us.  The entre concept of Ash Wednesday and Lent offers us an opportunity to “turn from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”  This season offers us a reason to celebrate rather than feel condemned.  During lent we are encouraged to sacrifice and go beyond the normal things we do spiritually.  The gospel reminds us to not do those things to be noticed but to do them because we desire to get closer to God.

Lent should be a season preparing us to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ during the Easter season. Our focus during lent should not be on our sacrifice but it should be on what God and Jesus sacrificed It is a time to embrace the salvation won for us by the Lamb of God.  It offers us an opportunity to prepare our hearts to understand the  mercy unleashed on Good Friday and made a reality on Easter Sunday. If we can understand that reality then we are equipped to turn from sin and to be faithful to the gospel. We are prepared for Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Sprit who will equip us to live for Christ and die to self.

When we do that we will understand that yes we are dust and to dust we will return but we are glorified dust, sanctified dust .  We are destined to be saints giving glory to God along  with many others including my Uncle David and friend Lionel.

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