You Are But Dust
I remember my first year as pastor, marking the head of a seasoned adult with ashes, and looking them in the eye as I reminded them that they are but dust, and to dust they shall return. It is striking to remind someone of their own mortality, especially when you are a young twenty-something reminding your congregation member in their eighties. It makes you wonder if this will be their last, or really anyone’s last. I wonder how many pastors marked the foreheads of those who passed last year. In the United States alone, we have lost over 468,000 people.
How little were we prepared for the year ahead last Ash Wednesday. February 26, 2020 was the date of Ash Wednesday, and March 16 was the date of Spring Break for many people. We were barely two weeks into Lent when the world started shutting down. First the Rodeo, then the sports teams, and then the schools. As things shut down, there was an air of fear about when things would reopen. To be completely honest, I expected that we would be back in person around Pentecost, which was the 31st of May last year. I thought we would have done our job social distancing and quarantining, and that we could worship again in person together.
It’s been almost a year since things turned upside down. We have gone from thinking about the common good and applauding first responders, medical workers, and front line workers to selfishly going to parties and gatherings and refusing to wear masks. The pandemic is tiring, and we are all fatigued.
But Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. Easter is a time of new birth; the celebration that death is not the end, that it doesn’t have the final say.
Lent is a holy time where we are called to repent, to turn back to God, and draw nearer to God. I hope that we are entering the waning days of the pandemic, and I hope that we can use this time wisely to study, pray, and fast. We are in a time of transition in our church. We might recommend to merge with Chapelwood around the time of Easter. We might recommend that we are seeing growth and new life already in Grace and that we are not ready to recommend a merger. I hope that you will use this holy season to be in prayer for your church, its leadership, and your pastor. The process that a caterpillar goes through to change into a butterfly is not an easy one, so I hope you view this time that we are in now as our chrysalis as we are changed.
We heard a lot of desire during the Future Forums to engage more in Christian Education and study, so we are offering two opportunities for growth during Lent. One is a class on Spiritual Disciplines, and you can help us choose a date by filling out this survey: https://forms.gle/ySKChFjfbugjfLfQ8. Another opportunity is an in person study. This will be on Tuesday mornings, and we will be wearing masks, meeting outdoors, and being as socially distant as possible. I hope you will share this study with others so that they can join if they are desiring something like this. You can sign up for this in person study here: https://forms.gle/sL2qqrxoNJedAMcu8.
I hope you will join us for Ash Wednesday. We have opted for a drive through ashing, both from 7-8 a.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the front of the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary will be open for prayer all day, and you can look forward to an online devotional from Collin.
I sincerely hope that I will see you in person again around Easter!