There are at least a billion things I do not know. Just watching a show on the History or Science channel reinforces that notion. I'm not incredibly dense, I just don't know it all. I suspect most of the world's population would fit this category. Our information bank consists of a sliver of knowledge and rarely does our knowledge slice expand much unless we seek knowledge or someone shares something with us. So it wasn't a great surprise yesterday when I ran into someone who had never heard of "Fat Tuesday", "Ash Wednesday", or "Lent".
I stopped in to buy some church supplies at a local store. As I checked out, I conversed with the cashier. I offhandedly mentioned about going home to eat many doughnuts because it was "Fat Tuesday"! She said, "What is that. What is Fat Tuesday?" I briefly spoke about church and the observation of Lent which only added more confusion to her face. I spoke about the next day being Ash Wednesday which begins Lent. She laughed and said, "Oh, we call that day 'Hump Day' around here." I laughed and said, "Well, it is that too."
We finished the checkout process and parted company. As I drove home, I thought of all the folks relatively close to me who have no meaningful connection to the God who created them, loves them, and has offered redemption to them. I felt a bit sad. With no connection, one may never know the joy of godly love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and hope. My heart hurt the whole way home.
Today is Ash Wednesday and it does signal a time of introspection, prayer, meditation, and our understanding of the relationship we enjoy with God. God is sovereign and we are not. God is ginormous and we are a speck of dust. God is beyond our understanding yet God chose to reveal the Divine nature to us through creation and Jesus Christ. Fantastic!
Even though there is a wide chasm between God and us, there is a bridge that spans that great divide and He is Jesus. Ash Wednesday reminds us of our finiteness and God's infinite presence. One day our bodies will return to the dust of the earth from which they came. The Good News for us is that our soul, that which God treasures, will be firmly established in the halls of heaven. We will be eternally present with God.
"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19, NIV)
The cross symbol smudged on foreheads all around the world will speak of the bridge between our frail existence and God's unshakeable Kingdom. We submit to God's power and might and feel the warm embrace of love and grace. That is how God wants it and yet so many do not know this.... As your observation of Lent begins, give up your right to hurt another person with harsh words and actions. Share the godly love within you and watch another frail person sense their needy condition. Watch them seek God's peace and hope. Be part of their journey toward grace. Help them get connected.