I have deep appreciation for Ash Wednesday. A day when the faithful remember that we are dust and to dust we will return. It is a day to remember our mortality and our deep need of Jesus — that without him our lives our fleeting. It is also a day of repentance and the beginning of Lent — a season of self-reflection, consecration and Easter preparation. On this day, men and women of varying degrees of faith will show the world their respect for this church tradition (and possibly the deeper meaning behind it). This year, I hope that the services I lead and the ashes I administer will be more than a symbol and contain a little more than the traditional meaning.
As I reflected on the ashes, I remember that while yes, we are dust, it was the Creator who valued that dust and formed us. It was our Creator that named us, knew us, called us, and consecrated us before we were more than dust. What looks like a pile of dirt to others, has become the apple of the Father’s eye. Furthermore, because of what God has done in Jesus, those who are seeking Him and following Him have the chance to be His very hands and feet. What was formed out of the dust, and then distorted by sin, has been redeemed and restored by the One who loves us. Yes, we are dust. And God has always been in the business of taking that which is deemed worthless, breathing on it and creating the most beautiful treasure. What a thought!
So if/when you receive the ashes on Wednesday and you hear the pastor say to you, ‘Remember you are dust…’, do not discount the great mystery and privilege of that truth. Your Creator believes in you exponentially more than you could ever believe in Him. God sees your potential and the great things you could do in this world because of His power at work inside of you. And the great thing about it is…we are ALL dust. Every single one of us. So no one has to be left out.
So friends…tomorrow and throughout this great season of Lent, remember that you are dust and God likes dust — A LOT!
Here’s a bonus: Michael Gungor’s ‘I Am Mountain’. It will be my theme song this Ash Wednesday!