Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent I...Ash Wednesday

Every now and again someone will say they attend worship because it makes them feel better.  It is an understandable response.  There is something about drawing aside to a place of worship, singing the majestic hymns of faith, and joining in the praying of God's people that does make us feel better;  yet, making us feel better is not really the purpose of worship.  And, certainly, this is true of Ash Wednesday worship.

Those who like to leave worship "feeling better" should stay away from Ash Wednesday worship.  While many things will happen today in sanctuaries and be called Ash Wednesday worship, such a service always includes the imposition of ashes along with the verbal reminder, "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." So, the two chief components of Ash Wednesday worship is a symbol of a penitent spirit and words that pronounce in an up front manner our own mortality.  Instead of being joyous worship, full of the notes of celebration, worship on this day is more likely to be somber and reflective. 

If it is such a downer, why bother?  Who really wants to be told they are going to die?  Who wants to seek out pain, or that which makes us uncomfortable?  Perhaps, the point of it all is to jolt us into remembering who we really are.  We really are creatures dependent on the grace and mercy of our Creator God and the deliverance offered through His Son, Jesus.  For those unable to attend Ash Wednesday worship, go sit in front of a mirror and for five minutes call your name and say, "(Name), remember you are dust and to dust you shall return."  Hear it from your own lips over and over and over until the truth of these words settles deep in your soul. 

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