25 February 2009


that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

I remember speaking those words over my children when they were little and the ashes smudged their forehead. Little, vibrant, full of life - so they seemed - but they too were destined for the grave. Same with me. Same with you. "All of us go down to the dust" as a beautiful Russian hymn has it.

And yet. We remember not only that we are dust and returning to dust. We remember something more. We remember Who became dust for us, Who laid His head into the dust, in order to make the dust incorruptible - alive with a life that cannot end. The ashes are received under the sign of His cross as a token of victory.

Yes, all of us go down to the dust. But the dust will never be the end of any who have been baptized into Him and draw in saving faith from union with Him the life that no death could hold. Remember the first thing, but also remember the second. [Yes, it's substantially the same as the post below it. But I wanted to say it again. And I can. It's my blog. ;)]


Anonymous said...

Pastor Weedon,

I know the tradition of ashes on the forehead is one of those "not commanded, not forbidden" things, but what do you think about a Lutheran church that does not do this practice on Ash Wednesday?

William Weedon said...

I think our parishes are growing in recovering many of these rich practices. More and more have restored the ashes as of late. We offer them, but we do not by any means insist that everyone receive them. I'd say we had about 100 of the 184 people who gathered for worship last evening receive them. Reminding the congregation that no one HAS to receive them, but that those who wish to do so may is a good beginning. We've seen the numbers rise each year of folks who come forward for them. If your parish doesn't offer them, my counsel is to ask your pastor if he'd consider offering them for those who desire them. According to our rite, they may be done before the liturgy proper begins, and that may be a good way to introduce the practice. At our parish, we originally did them AFTER the service, as we introduced the rite. Now, it falls within the service, after the opening litany and prayer.

chcagr said...

If there are no ashes is it still ash Wednesday? Sure it is still the beginning of Lent but ash-less Wednesday is just Wednesday. That is just my own opinion.

The tradition is there for a reason. We don't do imposition of ashes just because it is the tradition, we do it to remind us that we will die, we will face our maker, we NEED Christ for we're worthless without him. So, we do it for the same reason it is a tradition, we need to be reminded, continually, that we need to cling to Christ.

William Weedon said...

Dear chcagr,

But we mustn't treat the ashes in the same way we do a mandate from our Lord or His apostles. They are a human custom, and they confess beautifully the truth of Scripture. Yet they can't be made a "must."