There’s something powerful in being marked each year with ashes on my forehead and hearing the words, “From dust you have come. To dust you shall return. Repent and believe the Gospel!” It’s a reminder of our mortality and, more importantly, of our faith in a God who creates us all and then, in spite of our action or inaction, gives us grace to save us from our worst selves.
There was a time in my post-college, early adult years when I was struggling with whether I believed in God or not. I’d seen injustices that I couldn’t un-see, and they had left me wondering, ‘If there is a God, then where the h*ll is God?! And why isn’t God doing anything about it?!’ During this time, I still attended church, mainly because my mom wanted me to go. I remember how much it bothered her one particular Ash Wednesday when I wouldn’t go forward to have the ashes imposed on my forehead. I just couldn’t. I was so mad at God and the world and was doubting it all, and I just couldn’t. Fortunately, she and others loved me through it. They let me sit in my doubt while I figured it out. They talked to me about faith only when I wanted to. Eventually, I came to a realization that God had been there all along. God was with me in the questions and the doubts. God was with me in the brokenness of life. God was there in the midst of the struggles and injustices with “sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). God was patient as I sorted out what I believe. For that, I am thankful.
Since then, Ash Wednesday worship has become a very meaningful time for me as I impose the ashes on others … not always knowing their faith journeys … not always knowing their fears and doubts. No matter how we come, we all come as a reminder that we belong to God. Let me say that again for the people in the back … No matter what, we BELONG to God. From dust God created us. And to dust, our mortal bodies shall return. But thanks be to God that our souls live on eternally with our Creator and the One that God sent to walk the human walk that we all walk and to save us from the injustices that we all experience in this world.
I hope you’ll join me this Wednesday evening, February 26 at 6:00pm in the sanctuary as we remember together from whence we came and to whom we belong.
Rev. Malinda Weaver