So I spent the evening smudging ashes on Presbyterian foreheads, reminding people that their days are numbered. It was a peculiarly Christian way to spend my birthday.
My brief sermon reflected on a phrase overheard in a nearby Catholic hospital earlier in the day. After announcing that ashes would be distributed in the institution's chapel, a cheerful voice added, "Have a happy Ash Wednesday." The sermon said something like this:
“You are dust,” says the Lord our God. Don’t forget that we flourish only as the wind of God’s Spirit fills our lungs. Don’t fall into the illusion that we are more than we are. Stay humble, and depend on God for everything.