Today is Ash Wednesday: the beginning of the Lenten season. We don’t officially practice Lent at King’s Cross but if you’d indulge me anyway with some thoughts on the season.
For those of you (like myself) who did not grow up practicing this because it was too formal/dry/dead or had the perspective, “Isn’t Lent for Catholics?!”… Lent is a season of lament, intended to help the church posture herself in repentance to anticipate the cross (Good Friday) and the resurrection (Easter). Just as we prepare for anything in our lives (wedding, job interview, certification, exam, etc) with practices of anticipation, Lent helps the church prepare together… to form us together. So here is one reflection for us to consider as we anticipate the cross and resurrection:
You may have noticed people in your offices, or on the subway, or walking around carrying the ashen mark on their foreheads. There’s a line from one of my favorite psalms that I love: “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14)
How often do we live or serve the church on our own strength, forgetting that we are dust, animated by the breath (Spirit) of God? (Gen 2:7) We forget; but David reminds us in the psalm that He knows our frame. God does not forget. The wise sage who authored Ecclesiastes reminds us: “All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecc 3:20)
Being of dust reminds us that we live in a neighborhood that lives in brokenness, and we are part of that brokenness that needs restoration. We lament with the poor because we are also poor. We lament with the weak because we are also weak. We lament with immigrants because scripture reminds us we are foreigners who were invited to be natives of the Kingdom.
And in Christ coming, he who lived in perfect splendor came down to be dust with us. (John 1:14) So today, if you are so inclined, join your heart with me and many others all over the world (just as we recite the Apostle’s Creed every Sunday), to remember who we are, and that this symbolic smear of ash on our foreheads remind us that we are dust. We lament the state of our lives and the state of our world. But it is being fully immersed in this lament (not trying to avoid it or fast forward it til we get to the “good part”) that we can better see the beauty of the life we’ve been given through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As we are exploring Gathered & Scattered, how can we lament well and join our hearts *with* and alongside our neighbors? Let us seek to understand and know our community, our church, and those who’ve been entrusted to our care and friendships.
Lord, remind us by whose power we live and move and have our being. Give us eyes to properly see ourselves and more clearly see the brokenness of our lives and community. And give us hearts of love that models after your heart: that you came and dwelt among people like us. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to show forth the Gospel in all areas of our lives. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.