This year Ash Wednesday feels different,
To say we are dust is not to say we are insignificant,
Rather it is to say we are mortals,
Guests of this Holy Habitation,
Yet, rather than sanctifying this Sacred Space,
Humanity consumes creation ravaging this realm,
To say we are dust is not to say we are worthless,
To be swept out on the grass or shaken out with the rug,
But to say we are mortal.
As society screams for youth offering serums, lotions, and magic solutions,
We become consciously aware that we cannot cheat death,
Yet our world is cheating children out of their life,
The rubble, the destruction, and the mass graves,
Snuffing out a flickering candle whose life would have brought joy to many.
Ashes fall from buildings, dust settles over corpses,
Remains of buildings, humans, and animals comingled
While I sit comfortable seated, safe at church wondering what’s for lunch.
To say we are dust is not an unimportant careless ritual,
Rather it is a reminder of the many Christians in the world for whom death is a daily possibility.
While in the West, we have deconstructed the Gospel to little more than a moral fairy tale, church being optional – why not just watch TV,
There are millions martyred whose ashes cry out
“Wake up” the King is coming!
To wear the visible Christ sign on our forehead is not trite or glib,
It’s a bold declaration, a tangible imprint of the mind of Christ,
To think about the lovely, admirable, trustworthy and true.
To wear the ashes is to know our identity and not to hide the truth that we are all God’s beloved.
To commemorate Ash Wednesday is not a one day only event.
Our nation and world has privately and corporately lived in Lent for the past two years,
Longing for normality, giving up what we value in sacrificial service to another, suffering in isolation,
The frailty and uncertainty rising with each case count, mandate and lockdown,
We have all lived in the fear that Easter may never come,
And yet, it has.
These days have been long and dark and filled with tears and pain,
But like the Son it has risen again.
That’s why this Ash Wednesday feels different,
It feels different because we are not insignificant, worthless, unimportant, trite or glib,
It feels different because this is our courageous act of defiance,
Our refusal to surrender,
Our prophetic witness,
That we are here to break oppression, stop hatred, end discrimination and restore our world once again.