Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ash Wednesday

What follows is the text which I shared during Ash Wednesday worship this year. What came out of my mouth was not exactly what you see, and what came into the ears of the hearers was even more vastly different ... such is the nature of homilies/sermons, that G-d's Holy Spirit works in the space between speaking and hearing. 


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,
            not one,
      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

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