Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God, and from our Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen
Remember, you are dustthese are the words we’ll hear in a little bitwhen ashes are traced on our forehead
these ashes are a reminder for us who are healthy that life doesn’t last forevera reminder to the old and the ill that death may be approaching very soona reminder for the youngest in our midstthat though there are many years to look forward to,the vitality of life now is not guaranteed forever
so we trace ashes on our foreheada reminder of our mortalitya reminder that life is fragile, tenuousto be blown away, scattered as in the wind, as dry and dusty ashes from a campfire
remember, you are dustmy friend* has pointed out that dust is everywherethat it does a fine job of settling on stationary things,collecting in rarely ventured placesmaking its presence known only when a film developsbut, he points out,did you ever notice how when the light streams through the window just the right wayendless particles of dust are made visible?Always we are walking, breathing, living in the dust.he concludes with a reminder that God does some pretty cool stuff with dust
Remember, you are dustand when the light shines in the right way,when the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome itthere is beauty even in dust
In the beginning, God fashioned and shaped the dustbreathed into the dust’s lungsand created life,life, in which God continues to take delight
God takes delight in lifewhich, as we are reminded today, will endbut which, as we are reminded in the waters of our baptismis made new every day by our God, the author and giver of all life
this ash that we receive on our foreheads in just a momentit’s not simply ashthere is oil mixed in it(though I must issue the disclaimer that some pastors don’t mix oil in the ash they use)I do, though … and this oil, mixed in the ashwill be traced onto the same place as the oil used in baptism …traced in the same place where the cross was traced, perhaps in oil,when we were sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.
The oil helps the ash to stick better to our facesa more long-lasting reminder that we are dust, and we will return to dustand at the same time, a reminder that underlying the truth of our mortalityis the bigger truth that in God we are given life,we have received the gift of new life
Remember, you are dustmortal, fragile, temporaryremember, you are dust,
remember, we are dustfilled with breath, spirit, lifeby our God, who from lifeless dustcreates beauty, and eternally creates new liferemember, we are dust,and to Christ we shall return.
* the person I refer to is the Rev. Christian Nisonger, whose Facebook posting I used as a template for the thought and language of this section of the sermon text.