today as we come forward to have the ashes placed upon our foreheads, as we remember what it means to be made of the dust of the earth, we tell the truth about our mortality and our sin.
we are nothing but dust - and to dust we shall return.
yet there is something profoundly missing in that story. because even in the beginning, as God formed us from the dust of the earth, from the clay of the ground, as God got down on hands and knees and got dirty... molding us and forming us... we were touched with the maker's hands. and then the God of the universe breathed into Adam the breath of life.
as dust - we cannot escape from our mortality or our sin. as dust - there is no end possible but to return to the ground.
but we are not merely dust. God desires not the death of a sinner but a broken and contrite heart. God wants to bring life into our midst.
this time of lenten discipline is a time to open ourselves up to God's grace. That may come through spiritual disciplines like fasting and prayer. it may come from denial of temptations (coffee and soda, anyone?). it may come from an attentive awareness to God's movement in everyday things. But none of these practices in and of themselves earn God's love - will bring us salvation... we do them simply to spend time with God, we do them for the sake of God, practicing these disciplines focus our lives on God and that in and of itself brings its own reward.