…therefore, I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.Job 42:6
Truth be told, I had to be sold on the idea of our 7:00 AM “Drive through Ashes.” I don’t mind the time so much (as long as I’ve already had my coffee!), but the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday should be in church in a service with lots of confessing and lamentation and hymns played in minor keys. Why can’t people do that?!
Ah, but then I thought about Jesus preaching to the multitudes on the hillside and at the shore of the Sea of Galilee. And then (you knew this was coming) John Wesley preaching on his father’s gravestone when he was turned out of the church and preaching in a wheat field. There it is, God’s truth intersecting with the pathways of our busy lives.
Our scripture reference Job 42:6 call us to “repent in dust and ashes.” We must repent, that is to say we have to recognize our need to change our hearts and lives, and live on a path that leads us to God and God’s love. “Dust and ashes” have always been associated with mourning and repentance because of Genesis 3:19 “you are dust and to dust you shall return”. Ash Wednesday teaches us that we are mortal. Without God we are dust and will return to dust. With God there is spirit, we have life and in God eternal life. It is an important lesson, truly a matter of life and death.
I’ve become a fan of our “Drive through Ashes.” With the ashes, we offer a blessing. We also hand out a card, explaining the meaning of Lent and Ash Wednesday. We also give out free coffee as an act of hospitality. It’s been well received and many people truly seem to appreciate it. I still like to see lots of people at the services, but starting your day recognizing your own need of God and wearing ashes all day as a silent, but very real witness – it’s not a bad idea.
We need God. This is our day of dust and ashes. What difference will Lent make in your life?
Rev. Larry Lenow