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Strange Ash Wednesday

March 3, 2022

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland OH
March 2, 2022
by: Chad Bird / Read By Rev. Dean Kavouras

Ash Wednesday
2022

The Strange and Beautiful Ash Wednesday

What a strange day is Ash Wednesday. Followers of Christ, from all around the globe, will willingly submit to have sooty, black, messy stuff smeared on their foreheads. The fruit of fire, in the shape of a cross, will be finger-painted onto our skulls. Odd, indeed.

But is it?

Not for us.

Not for Christians.

For beginning with our baptism, we daily practice the art of dying to self. Today, the pastor will say to us, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” To which we may well respond, “I do that every day.”

We remember that we, mortal creatures, beset by sin, weak and failing and falling apart, will one day join those innumerable others who have gone before us, whose bodies now lie beneath the soil. Indeed, to dust we shall return. Let us ever live, in repentance and faith, knowing that one day, to dust we shall return.

Also, we know that the cross-shaped ash upon our brow is a dark but vivid reminder that on the brow of the Messiah was a crown of thorns as he hung upon his cross-shaped altar of sacrifice. So, even as we remember that we are dust, and to dust we shall return, we also remember that we are Christ’s, and to the crucified Christ we shall ever return to find him our all-sufficient atoning sacrifice for all our sins.

Upon our heads, today dirty, was once poured clean and cleansing water. We were baptized. Or, rather, we *are* baptized, for this saving and holy and God-filled water never evaporates from our skin, soul, heart, mind or spirit. We are dust, but we are dust that has had water poured upon it, Spirit breathed into it, so that in Jesus we became the ever-living, ever-forgiven, ever-beloved children of our Father.

What a strange day is Ash Wednesday. And what a beautiful, holy, memorable day it is. A day to recall our mortality, to repent of our immorality, to revere the crucified Christ, and to revel in our status as the sons and daughters of God as we live the baptismal life each day.