Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Have a happy...

My 47th birthday landed on Ash Wednesday this year. I would have preferred a Fat Tuesday celebration with a Dixieland band, but the calendars didn't intersect that way.

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.
  • There is a special kind of happiness in accepting such limits. We don’t have to worry how the day will turn out. This is the day that the Lord has made, and that is enough. We don’t have to fret how we shall save the world before we fall asleep; the world already has a Savior and we have to trust he will get it done. We don’t have to fear that we can’t accomplish everything we hope to do; there will never be enough time for that any way, so let's lean back into God’s stronger arms, and learn how blessed it is to receive.
It was an honest acknowledgement for somebody on the brink of Old Dufferhood. Each day is a gift from God, and I am grateful for the life that God has given me.

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