Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Lent's a season that many churches set aside to reflect and remember what Jesus did for us on the cross.  And in our culture Ash Wednesday has found a place of special significance.  So what's the big deal with the Ashes? Just a little smudge on your hand or head is enough to mark you and to stick with you.  The ashes are a reminder of what we are,

“Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Pay attention to these words about being dust.  Ash Wednesday is much about “What are you?” as it is about “Who are you?”

Maybe you don't talk about yourself or others as dust. But chemically speaking that's what we are—ask a chemist what humans are made out of he might tell you, chemically speaking, you're made mostly of water held in a frame work of complex chains made up mostly of of carbon and calcium. But the same could be said about a watermelon. When either a human or a melon are completely dried up they are basically indistinguishable from dust. 

So what makes you different from a melon?
–biologists can point to the differences between humans and fruit by talking about the way cells in our bodies work. All cells are made up of many of the same basic compounds. But cells are not random piles of stuff, no each cell is intricately made up of these elements working together to stay alive in its own unique form.
–a geneticist could tell you how cells fit together into a body not as a jiggling jello like mass but as a small part of a complex organism. We look at the discoveries of scientists and see the grand design God has for life.

At the most basic chemical level, we are little more than dust and water. The ashes today are a reminder of of what we are and faith gives us hope for who we'll be after death. Either through decomposition or cremation, we turn back to dust.  But through faith in God we see new life is coming for all who believe. 

Our culture is fascinated by death and images of death. Books, movies and TV shows can engross us or just plain gross us out. Death is viewed as creepy, scary, shocking and sickening; but for people who believe in Jesus death is not the end of everything. Rather for believers death is the beginning. This is where faith comes in: for Christians death is the way to life everlasting.

Pax, John

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