Another Trip Around
It's my birthday today. I have turned thirty-five years old.
Okay, it's obviously not this bad. The only downside I could figure was "I guess I can no longer tell folks I'm a pastor in my early thirties."
Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!
In the end? Not that big a deal. Arthritis may came, creaking bones, and popping knees, but God's Word, Love, and Sovereignty is forever. So maybe I should focus on that.
There's a good crossover of themes coming up in our Christian year... next week, in fact!
Not too much time will pass between now and the time I gravely stand in front of a line of the people of God and cross their foreheads with ash, reminding them that they are dust, and to the dust, they shall return. Those themes... aging, worrying about the earthly self, and being reminded that it's fleeting, that it's vanity... and reminded, further, that God is above all those frivolous concerns? That He is all over all... transcendent... literally awesome? Those themes are tackled on Ash Wednesday.
I remember how sobering it is for me, as I share the words and the ashes of the previous year's palms... how important it is to make every person's reception of the cross on their heads as a moment set aside just for them. A reminder just for them that they've got one life to get right with God, but there won't be anything they can ever say, nor anything they can do, that can separate them from the love and mercy of God. It's why it's important to not only share "Remember that you are dust, and to the dust you shall return," but also "Repent, and believe the Gospel."
It's a reminder we all need. And I'm part of the 'all.'
I remember in seminary hearing "The preacher preaches to themselves first." And I think that's true. Every message I've ever preached, I need to hear. And what I'll share with the congregation this Ash Wednesday? I'll need to hear that most of all.
There's one life we've got to get it right. That one life is full of opportunities to get it wrong, but we have a Savior who loved us enough to die for us, who loves us still, who wants better of us.... who wants us to get it right.
Lent will give us an opportunity to get it right; to put away earthly concerns and concentrate on heavenly ones, and if this Lent bears new gifts like ones gone by, we'll come to know the God of Mercy, Hope, and Love a little better, and be better for it.