Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

Floyd was the chairman of the deacon board that hired Robb to be the pastor of Ithaca Baptist Church. He was a thick, solid man. A carpenter by trade, the father of four solid boys. He was also a farmer. He and his wife Carol were pillars of the church. She plays the piano. He did everything from teaching Sunday School to building the actual church building. And as Robb and I changed in our five years of ministry there, we did not get along.

He and his son were one of the main obstacles to making any kind of changes at the church. He was like a brick wall. There was no moving him from what he believed the Bible said about how to do church and how to live.

On Saturday, Floyd died.

Ash Wednesday is an appointment. It’s an appointment with our humanity. Our sin. Our fragility. Our mortality. It is a time to mourn.

The ancients mourned by dusting themselves in ashes. The ash is such an obvious symbol of what is left after the bright, warm flame of life is over. From ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

We can’t fix our relationship with Floyd now. It was broken before, but now it’s permanent. We all deal with this kind of brokeness. We deal with our own flaws and self-hate and we deal with other people’s flaws and hate. Life requires us to move forward and not to dwell on these problems most of the time.

But sometimes, tonight, we need to stop and acknowledge it. We have to stop and acknowledge that we only have a small amount of time to live and we often spend it

foolishly entrapped by poor choices,

focused on our hurts and anger or

frustratingly inconsistent with what we know God wants for us.

Tonight, we grieve the lost opportunities to be at peace with one another.

We confess that we contribute to the problems of the whole world with our own sin.

And we confront our own mortality.

But we longer dust ourselves in the ashes to express this grief.

We take the sign of the cross on our foreheads.

We take up our cross and follow Jesus.

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