Ash Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Morning Psalms: 95, 32, 143 | Evening Psalms: 102, 130
Amos 5:6-15 | Hebrews 12:1-14 | Luke 18:9-14
 
“You are dust and to dust you shall return” is the familiar phrase we hear on this day, Ash Wednesday, as we begin the season of Lent. We were first formed by God from the dust of the ground. And at the end of our earthly lives, our mortal bodies will return to the earth. You are dust and to dust you shall return.
 
In the midst of this great dust cloud, we also find ourselves in a cloud of another sort. As the reading from the twelfth chapter of Hebrews tells us, “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” (12:1) a great cloud of saints. This cloud includes those people who have gone before, such as those spoken about in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and even those people we see every day. It is this cloud of people who encourage us in our path. They looked forward by faith to a Messiah who would come. We who know the resurrected Jesus look back at their faithfulness and we are encouraged to press on and “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1).
 
The Christian life is often likened to a race (1 Cor 9:24, 2 Tim 4:7). And in this race, we are instructed to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” so that we can run with endurance. The season of Lent is asking us to enter again into the running with endurance, to lay aside the sin which clings to us. But Lent is also to remind us that we are dust, and all the saints who went before us are dust, and thus none of us can in our own strength endure this race. We are, during Lent as in all seasons, looking to Jesus who “endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).
 
The Rev. Tina Lockett (MDiv 2001)
Dean of Students
Director of Admissions
Ambridge, PA

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