I had a friend posted the following thing on her Facebook wall.
What a long day....one of my best friends layed her mom to rest today, makes me appreciate every day with my own mom even more than I already do!!!! Not only are me and my sisters so lucky to have her...so are all her lovely grandcherubs! We love you!!!!
Ash Wednesday is about recognizing this truth that came to my friend.
Life is short, and so we better give thanks for it and use it.
Time this side of heaven is not forever.
Tonight we gather and we have ashes put on our head and we are told, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”.
We are reminded that life is mortal, life is short.
Our time here on this earth will not be forever.
This is hard for people like me because I am a great procrastinator.
I get things done, but usually not until the last minute.
Not until I absolutely have to.
My motto seems to be, “Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?”
I have thought that I have gotten so good at it that I should put procrastination on my resume as a skill.
Not only this, but I am reminded of all the things in life that need to be done.
And yet there is never enough time to do them all.
There are people to save, groceries to buy, kids to feed, causes to speak out for, new things to learn, music to listen to, books to read…
And yet here I am wasting time watching to see what crazy thing Charlie Sheen will say next.
When, I wonder, will I get myself together?
When will I do all the things that I should be doing?
St. Paul reminds us that “Now is the acceptable time…Now is the day of salvation.”
Lent is that reminder that now is the time for us to get ourselves together, because there is limited time.
But we are all so busy.
We are running around doing all the things that life demands.
But tonight we are not given another task.
Rather we are given a chance to set things right.
Tonight we are given the gift of being able to turn from our selfish ways and to remember God.
What we are given in lent is not so much direction but grace.
We are given the gift to reorient our lives to God.
We are given the gift to be reminded that the God of grace has called us to something more.
The God who saves us from becoming mere dust is the God who gives us more time, more life, and more love.
God has given us this time.
And with this time we have the ability to choose God.
But what Paul tells us is that it is not going to be easy.
Choices never are.
We might have to give something up.
We might have to let go of control.
And that is what the struggle is really about.
Who is in control of our lives?
Is it us in control who are really only dust?
Or is it God who makes us more than dust?
St. Paul, through faith, knew that our lives are more than dust.
This is why Paul could look at the things that had happened to him and see not what humans see but what God saw.
“We are treated as imposters, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known, as dying, and see-we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making everything rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
And lent gives us the opportunity to see us and the world through God’s eyes.
You might be sick; you might be despised, you might be rejected by some, and you might be dust.
But in God’s eyes you are much more than that.
In this community of faith you are much more than that.
In this community we are all heirs of God’s wonderful promises.
And tonight we hear the words of our mortality and we are reminded of a far greater truth that with God we are more than mere dust.
We are not really dying, but living.
We are not unknown because with God every part of our being is known.
That is really our problem we are afraid of becoming nothing, of becoming unimportant, or left out.
Most of our actions are to avoid this problem.
This is what Jesus is talking about in our Gospel reading for tonight.
It is unnecessary to try and be the most impressive prayer, faster, or alms giver God already knows what you are and what you do.
God already sees you as beautiful and wonderful so why try and prove it before others.
You don’t need all those treasures on earth because God has promised to prepare for you greater treasures in heaven.
In our trying to avoid becoming dust we cause lots of problems in our lives.
We don’t want to be nothing so we try to accumulate things to show that we are something.
We don’t want to seem unimportant so we say, “Look at me and all the Facebook friends I have, or how many texts messages I get”.
We don’t want to look like bad people so we say, “Look at me I go to church every week aren’t I better then all those other people”.
We want to be noticed so we say. “Look at me I pray, fast, and give money to the poor I am really holy”141.
We don’t want to be old so we try and make ourselves younger more attractive.
We don’t want to be alone so we choice the wrong people to be with.
We don’t want to die so we pretend that we will live forever.
With God life is so much better because we don’t have to pretend anymore.
We can tell the truth, “We are dust and to dust we shall return”.
We will die and so today we will live like there is no tomorrow.
Today will be the day.
Today will be the day I tell my mother I love her.
Today will be the day I tell my wife she is the most important thing to me.
Today will be the day I will give of my life for someone else.
Today is the acceptable day!
Today is the day I will turn and see the grace and beauty of God in and through all things.
And every day of this mortal life I will give thanks to God for my blessings, and I will share them with others.
“Today is the acceptable day….Today is the day of my salvation.”
Thanks be to God for this day, and the grace to be and do more!