DAWNINGS: Ash Wednesday a time for reflection

By Rev. Dr. Dawn Darwin Weaks

Pastor, Connection Christian Church

Ash Wednesday is such a weird and wonderful day. This Wednesday, throughout the globe, Christians will receive a cross drawn in ash on our foreheads. Wearing the cross is common practice for many Christians, but usually it’s as jewelry or possibly a T-shirt. But on Ash Wednesday it’s a smudge on our faces.

On any other day, Christians wearing crosses might come across as a little smug or holier-than-thou to some. But on Ash Wednesday, it just looks like, “Uh, you’ve got something there, on your forehead.” What’s more, the message of Ash Wednesday is pretty intense. “You are dust, and to dust you will return” (from Genesis 2:7) is what is said traditionally to the person receiving ashes. We might as well say: “You’re gonna die, so live right quick.” Every other day of the year we tiptoe around death. We say people “passed away” instead of died, and carefully take our vitamins, trying to avoid death altogether if we can. But on Ash Wednesday it’s right out there. We die, so what’s really important in our lives? We might not have until next Ash Wednesday to act on that, so we best do it now.

And this is the wonderful part alongside the weird part of Ash Wednesday. It gives us a moment to remember that we are only human. Humans who die and hurt and screw up. We take time to acknowledge that there’s no time to lose: We need to forgive and to be forgiven, by each other and by God. We pause and admit that we will not live on this earth forever so how we live right now matters. And we confess that there is only One who can hold us beyond death, whose hands we are in ultimately — our God who created us out of the dust and breathed life into us.

You’re invited to get your ashes from an ecumenical group of churches on February 14 at “Ashes to Go” at 7:30-8:30 a.m. at Stripes on Faudree, 10-11 a.m. at Market Street, noon-1 p.m. at the corner of Tanglewood and Penbrook, 2-2:30 p.m. at the Medical Center Chapel, and 4-5 p.m. at the parking lot for Chick-Fil-A on 42nd. Four churches will combine for a worship service at Connection Christian Church (4241 Tanglewood) at 6:30 p.m. Wherever and however you celebrate, I hope you will take time to receive the gift of a blessed Ash Wednesday, dear magnificent and mortal friends.