Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God,
and from our Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen
Today, in stark ways, we’re reminded of our mortality – ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
As we collect ourselves together as community, we’re reminded that none of us,
will escape that return to dust.
Those who are older,
and those who are sick in significant ways
will likely return to dust sooner than the young and healthy.
But even that’s not always the case –
we all probably know of young and healthy people
who well before they should have.
The truth is that, no matter who we are,
each of us even in this moment is approaching the ashes,
the ‘ashes to ashes’ ashes,
and also the ashes here in worship
and we approach ashes together –
old and the young together;
ill and the well together;
parents and children together.
The mark on our forehead, which we’ll receive in a few moments,
serves as a stark reminder that the wages of sin is death –
we are dust, and to dust we shall return.
And at the same time,
the dusty mark on our forehead that we’ll receive
traces the seal of the Holy Spirit,
which always is there on our forehead, ever a reminder of our baptism.
So we approach the ashes today, and we approach our God,
claiming the promise of our baptism;
and we approach our God echoing the psalmist:
Have mercy, O God,
according to your steadfast love,
your abundant mercy
we know we transgress and trespass
sin, and fall short of God’s glory
Today we’ll approach this altar twice
once, to be reminded of our mortality
our sin, our brokenness and our need for God’s mercy
and a second time to receive into our very bodies
the promise of wholeness
and of forgiveness & mercy
and of new life
Blessings to you, and to all of us, as we enter this holy season.
May we encounter God in new and surprising places and ways.
In the name of Christ. Amen