Mar 03 2022


I smeared soot on your forehead. You usually don’t let anyone touch your face, but you looked in my eyes and I told you that you were going to die while I marked you with ashes. I wonder, was it as unsettling for you as it was for me?


It felt like I was sucker punching you. As the words came out of my mouth I wanted to suck them back in. “From dust you are and to dust you will return.” It’s kind of a downer. Maybe a bit morbid. I wanted to say something more encouraging. You thanked me or you said “Amen”. I wanted to apologize.


My wonder over this strangely intimate encounter was heightened by the fact that this will be the last time I get to do this as your pastor. We have this last lent together to walk with Jesus toward his own death in Jerusalem and then to celebrate his resurrection before I go. My mixed feelings of sadness and anticipation fit the season.


We were marked with the sign of the cross and reminded of our own death because we too are all headed to death. But just as surely as we all will die, we will be raised. His resurrection is proof. Like him, we will die and we will rise.


Starting this season with the bad news of our death makes the good news of the resurrection stand out in bold relief. We lay down our lives to save them and take up our cross to be raised. This is a season of wonder where we will reflect on this strange and counterintuitive paradox of the gospel.


Join me Sunday as we lay down the weight of our burdens and pick up the wonder of the gospel for our last first Sunday of lent together.

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