Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Great Forty Days. For a second straight year we will witness the juxtaposition of the foremost penitential season of the church year with the continuing restrictions and death-dealing associated with the pandemic. It seems strange to say that I profoundly miss being able to go to worship and have someone smear ashes on my head and tell me that I’m going to die when the pandemic itself stands as a constant reminder that “We are dust and to dust we will return.” Ironically, it has been some Christian churches that have stood at the forefront of denying this reality by downplaying or ignoring the pandemic. Interestingly, they largely represent traditions that do not take the time each year to be confronted by the ashes of our brokenness and mortality.
I’ve posted a couple of Ash Wednesday sermons on my blog over the years. Here a couple of links for those who might want to revisit them:
“We Are Beggars”: An Ash Wednesday Sermon | Thinking After (a sermon on Genesis 3:17-19; 1 John 1:5-10; Luke 18:9-14)
“In Sackcloth and Ashes”: A Sermon for Ash Wednesday | Thinking After (a sermon on Daniel 9)
The former sermon may be better, but the latter has the virtue of featuring a rarely preached on text that seems to find a natural home on Ash Wednesday.