Ash Wednesday March 1, 2017
Joel 2, 12-18 + Psalm 51 + 2 Corinthians 5, 20; 6,2 + Matthew 6, 1-6, 16-18
St Peter and St William Churches in Naples, FL
From our very beginning we are dust touched by the loving hand of a Creating God. We were filled with life and with hope by the Spirit of the God’s breath. But the King we welcomed with palms and glad Hosannas has been betrayed by our infidelity, fragile faith, and broken promises. So, we go back this day to that from which we came. There is a lot of dirt in all our lives the dirt of sin, the dirt of secrets, the dirt of lies and falsehood. Today we remove the masks of our pretense, and the truth is revealed; the truth of what we are without God. For had that loving creating God not breathed His life and His love into us, we would still to this day be nothing more than a handful of dirt blown about by the wind.
At no other time has the truth of our identity been so visibly marked on our skin. On the day of our Baptism, we were signed with the sign of the cross marked proudly as a royal, priestly, and prophetic people. But since that day, through the many years of our lives, that identity has been spoiled and damaged by our sinfulness. This Lenten anointing is a rougher, grittier, and dirtier marking accompanied now by stark words: “Remember,” because we have forgotten!
There is a lot to remember for all of us. The ritual words bid us to remember our beginnings, but there is far more to remember than those ritual words suggest. We must remember what we have done that brings us here, and we must remember what we have not done which might be even greater. We must remember too what this cross means, and what it promises. We must remember who we are as children for God, for we have too often forgotten. We must remember the gifts we have been given by the Holy Spirit, and the promise those gifts still hold for the future and the coming Kingdom of Go
We must remember the Beatitudes and our call to faith as disciples. We must remember one another and those who have brought us to this day by word and example, prayer and sacrifice. We must remember what it means to come to this altar and say “Amen” with outstretched hands and open hearts. We must remember finally where we are headed and the tombs into which we will be lowered, but from which we shall all be called on that glorious morning when the dead will arise arm in arm with the risen one who calls us to life this day.
There is a lot to remember today in this holy place where we shall once again, “Do this in memory of me.”