Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Ashes for me, ashes for you

"Ash Wednesday is all about you... because it is all about sin. Ash Wednesday is all about God, because it is all about sin. Now go forth and love as madly as you can the God of Ash Wednesday."
--Ellsworth Kalas, Asbury chapel, 3/1/06 (link forthcoming)

Two years ago was the first time I had ever been exposed to the practice of the imposition of ashes. I arrived at the office, where perhaps half my co-workers were Roman Catholic, and saw them with black smudges on their faces. I was this close to saying, "Dude, you got some printer toner on your forehead." But I caught myself just in time.

I would very much like to provide some deep and profound reflections about what the big idea about is about Ash Wednesday, but my friends have done that so much better than I could. For that, I direct you to Terry, Kyle and Alan.

As for myself, I'm chest deep in Hebrew grammar books, exploring an exegesis paper on 1 Samuel 7:2-4, which as it turns it, is quite an apropos reading for the season.

Many days passed since the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim--twenty years. All the house of Israel mourned after YHWH. Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, "If you return to YHWH with all your heart, then turn away from the foreign gods among you--the Ashtoroth--and prepare your heart for YHWH. Serve Him only, and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines." And the sons of Israel turned away from the Baalim and the Ashoroth, and they served YHWH alone. (my translation).

Interestingly, this phrase "after the YHWH" occurs uniquely in this passage. Ten times it appears in the Old Testament. This is the only time it is used in a context of mourning. Every other time it appears in the context of obedience, with the verbs "to follow" or "to walk."

So may we not mourn the absence of YHWH, as the Israelites did. But rather see our God in the mundane, ordinariness of life and follow after YHWH.

Christ have mercy

posted by Peter at 1:54 PM
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