Ash Wednesday

Today we put ashes on us -- foreheads or hands -- in the mark of the cross. Most of the ashes we receive are the charred remains of palm branches and stars. It is a complicated day.

Those palm branches were waved with excitement and anticipation as we remembered Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Like those who were in attendance then, we lived into the story of hope for Jesus to take leadership of our lives and walk us into a new world of justice, equality, care and love. But then Thursday and Friday happened. And just like all of us at times, the followers couldn't handle the risks that are a part of that walk.

And Sunday happened. God's promise that love and hope cannot be destroyed is realized.

The ashes remind us of all of that. And more.

As we receive the ashes we remember too that this dust was the very stuff of God's explosion of love that formed the universe, and when stardust became the soil that God molded into humanity.

We wear ashes in remembrance of those before us who donned ashes for mourning, or in sympathy with those who suffer, or for repentance; and we do the same.

We wear ashes remembering the dirt and dust of the earth to which we will return is the dirt that holds and feeds the new life of God's creation and the realization that God's goodness and love and hope cannot be destroyed.

It is a complicated day that holds the both/and of: life/death -- repentance/forgiveness -- triumph/ denial -- humanity/divinity -- all at once in the cross dust we wear.

But we have 40 days to reflect on all of this.


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