Sundays are about life

they’re about resurrection


Sunday is the Lord’s Day

Every Sunday’s a little Easter


Sundays are about life


But this isn’t a Sunday


Today is different


Is today about life?

Well, it is,

And it isn’t



Ash Wednesday

is about mortality –

about death



for we who are named

and claimed

by God in Christ


For we who live

and move

and have our being in Christ


For we who have been put to death –

drowned in the waters of Holy Baptism

sharing in a death like Christ’s

that we might share in a resurrection like his


Any day that has to do with death,

because Christ is raised from the dead,

has also to do with the promise of life eternal…



It’s the stuff of what Luther called the blessed,

Or happy, exchange


It’s what Paul writes about in our second lesson:

“For our sake God made him to be sin

who knew no sin

so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”


Christ becomes sin

we become righteous


Christ becomes what he never should have been

we become what we were meant to be all along


This is what Lent’s about


the ashes on our heads are there to remind us of our weakness

of our propensity toward sin


and the ashes are there to remind us of our mortality –

remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return


but the ashes aren’t just smeared on

they’re placed on our heads in the form of a cross

so that

even as they remind us that we’re weak

they remind us of who is strong…

they remind us of who has loved us with a love that is stronger than death


they’re placed on our heads in the form of a cross

so that even as they remind us of death

they remind us also of who has

once and for all

on the cross

and by the empty tomb

conquered sin and death


yes, the ashes speak many symbolic words to those who take the time to listen…



Throughout history Lent has meant many things


Originally these 40 days were the time of final preparation

for the baptism of adult converts to the Christian faith


over time

as more and more people were raised in the faith

and people –

the children of adult believers –

were baptized, then, as babies

the emphasis of Lent became one of repentance

a time to reconsider one’s life

and to make right

those things that had gone wrong


in practice, this often involved personal sacrifice

as part of making things right again


but as things tend to go

especially in terms of religious practices

if the meaning isn’t carefully guarded

and carefully taught

the meaning gets lost

and all that remains is the act


so that today we have untold numbers of people who “give up” things for Lent

like chocolate

or coffee

or alcohol

while all the while knowing that

when this season is over

they’re going right back to doing what they’ve been doing


This was never the purpose of a Lenten fast

The purpose of a Lenten fast

is to return us to normalcy…




Face it, we live in a world that’s a mess

as we’ve gotten more and more out of harmony with God


and with the rest of humanity

and with the whole of creation


what we waste –

and God knows

even the best of us waste far too much –

what we waste,

we steal from another


rather than living as Christ has called us to live

following him

taking up the cross –

in other words

rather than laying down our lives

our desires

our ambition

our greed

our appetites

and placing the needs of the other before our own –


we continue to strive after all that we can get

more money

more power

more status

more possessions

more ease


rather than feeding the hungry

we continue to stuff ourselves

even though we’ve long since become the fattest nation on the planet


rather than sharing our resources equitably

we continue to waste the world’s precious resources

in ludicrous ways





rather than caring for God’s good creation

we continue to devour the earth’s resources

to jeopardize untold numbers of species

and to pollute the water and air our children and their children will need to survive


But it’s okay, right?..

because we’ll give up coffee

or chocolate

or booze for 40 days once a year


Is this the fast that God desires?

Is this the normalcy to which Lent is meant to help us return?


As God’s people we are meant to live in a way that

when people see the way we live

they learn just how much God loves the world


There are many ways we can share in this sort of living

and to grow in understanding

and to be challenged to greater action

in the name of Christ

for the sake of the world

as individuals

and as a community of faith


May the disciplines of Lent

by the power of the Spirit

do that work in each of our lives

and in our life together in Christ.