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Ash Wednesday Morning

February 22, 2012

“Wipe the mud off!  You’ll see the mark!”

They wiped.  They saw.  And they knew the true identity of the animal.

That scene from one of this year’s Oscar-nominated films is about as timely as possible today.

On this Ash Wednesday, Christians world-wide will accept ashes in the form of the cross on our foreheads.   We’ll hear some variant of the words, “Remember, you are dust, and to the dust you shall return.”

That’s not just a line from some death metal band’s singer with a voice like Cookie Monster.  It’s what God said in Genesis 3:19.  It’s somber.  It’s sobering.  And it’s true: we are dust, and to the dust we shall we return.

But that scene from that film, and those directions in particular, are encouraging and helpful today.  When the dirt of battle was removed, the original identifying beauty was visible to all.   When the sign of the Cross of Christ is upon us, the very smudging itself is a reminder that our loving God works for good through the very real and earthy stuff of life and death.

May the scratchy Cross of Christ wipe off the mud of your battles.  May the mark of Christ be evident by your embodiment of love.  May the muddy Plus Sign on your forehead be a beacon of God’s Grace.  And may your Lent be a holy one.


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