Psalm 90:3-4; 113:5-7 (NRSV)
You turn us back to dust,
and say, "Turn back, you mortals." For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.
Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high, who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust,
and lifts the needy from the ash heap.
[God] raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap.
- Psalm 113:7 (NRSV)
AS part of a hospital pastoral team, I applied ashes to people's foreheads and said, "Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return." (See Ecclesiastes 3:20.) I received ashes on my forehead too. The ashes used in Ash Wednesday worship reminded me of the ashes of my life.
For more than a week I had been in the doldrums. My body was fighting the flu. I was weary from frustrating work assignments. Spiritually I was struggling to forgive an enemy. Instead of fighting my despondency, I prayed to the Lord to teach me from this experience. I wrote my thoughts in a journal and resigned myself to what God might want to show me.
During worship that evening, I felt a release from the inner weights of life. My burdens were taken up in Jesus' death and in Jesus' rising.
Over the days that followed, I was renewed in strength. I could say with the psalmist, "[God] raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap."
Prayer: Lord Jesus, in your sacrifice we find healing. We give to you the things that weigh us down. Thank you for taking our sins to the cross and for raising us from the dust. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
When we feel as if our life is in ashes, God offers us renewal.
Those leading worship
By Wesley S. Mast, Pennsylvania