Remember that You are Dust
By: Rev. Greg Batson
This Wednesday, February 14th, marks two very different occasions on the calendar. The first that comes to mind is Valentine's Day. It is the day set aside to celebrate our love for someone special in our lives. Of course, retailers and restaurants will not let you forget this with candy and roses and romantic dinners galore. In whatever way you decide to let someone know that you love them, it's a good idea to circle this date on your calendar.
The other occasion that falls on February 14th this year is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. This 40-day season (not including Sundays) is our commitment to a time of reflection and repentance. Spiritual practices such as fasting, daily prayer, and a commitment to abstain or "give up something" guide us in this journey.
At our Ash Wednesday service (7 pm in the Sanctuary), ashes mixed with oil will be placed upon our foreheads as the pastor recites these words: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." It is a reminder that God created human life, from the dust of the earth, breathing life into us. When we die, we become dust again, a symbol of our mortality. Jesus himself would share this with us - God becoming flesh in his birth (Incarnation), sharing in our pain and suffering (Passion), and dying upon a cross (Crucifixion).
While this may all sound rather morbid, it is important to remember that death is not the final answer. Lent prepares us for the greatest joy of all: the miracle of New Life (Resurrection) on Easter Sunday. If you commit to the spiritual disciplines this Lenten season, you will experience Easter at a deeper level than you ever have before. So invite you to observe both holidays on February 14th this week: Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday, for love is present in them both.