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By Pastor Paul Gauche

Today’s Word: ‘Ashes’ as in… “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” It’s fascinating to think about how many times these words will be spoken today.

As the season of Lent begins, millions of people around the world will come together to take the first common steps on a journey that each one will experience differently.

The word “Lent” comes from an old English word for “lengthen” and refers to the lengthening of these early days of spring. We express gratitude for how the season of Lent gives us a few extra moments of light each day to consider what spring, new life, hope, and promise – what resurrection means for us and the ways we live with one another in the world.

I recently officiated at a memorial service and spoke those ancient words at the graveside:

“Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

These words are compelling reminders of our essence, who we are, and our ancient/future connection to the Creator who created us once and continues to recreate us as people of light and life in an often very dark world.

Something dynamic happened at noon today. As those ancient words were spoken to me, and the cross was traced on my forehead, I felt the physical pressure of the pastor’s thumb pressing against me. In that very fleeting moment, I had to think about my footing as I absorbed those ashes on my forehead. This made me aware of the many things that push against me in my daily life: fear, misunderstanding, selfishness, brokenness, and my ability to make an utter mess of things. And yet, the announcement is always good news:

“Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

This ancient message intends to turn all of us toward Christ, who invites us to participate in this journey with him to the end of ourselves, which ultimately reveals the beginning of who we’re becoming: created and recreated, living, breathing, resurrected people.

Thriving Reflections

++ Reflect on the significance of the words “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” and how they serve as a reminder of your essence and connection to the Creator. How does this ancient message shape your understanding of life, death, and the journey of self-discovery?

++ Think about the things that push against you in daily life. Consider the symbolic meaning of the ashes and the cross traced on your forehead. How does this physical experience contribute to a deeper awareness of your struggles and the transformative journey towards becoming a “resurrected person”?

++ The season of Lent is described as a time to lengthen the days and reflect on spring, new life, hope, and promise. How does the practice of Lenten reflection and self-examination resonate with you? In what ways do you find meaning and purpose in this Lenten journey, especially in the context of the imposition of the ashes and the call to participate in a transformative journey with Christ?

#Thriv’era  |  #100days50words

Paul Gauche is the Pastor of Life Transitions at Prince of Peace. His posts are part of his #100days50words project, where he blogs about a different word each week. You can follow his project on Instagram (@pgauche) or his blog, Thriving Rhythms.

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