Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday, Year B

Isaiah 61 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; ² to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; ³ to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. ⁴ They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

The delayed parousia...

A seminary term. 

Scholarly language that is used sometimes to describe the "delayed" Second Coming of Christ.

As we begin Lent, we begin being reminded of our mortality...from dust you have come, to dust you shall return. 

And today, reading from Isaiah 61, the line "to give them a garland instead of ashes" strikes me.

Ashes were an outward sign of mourning or repentance, an acknowledgement of brokenness and ruin.  A garland was a sign of celebration and victory.

Here at the beginning of these 40 days, Isaiah's word promises gladness, praise, a garland. 

Holding together a millennia old promise that Christ will return with the reminder of our dusty lives along with the notion that Gid will comfort those that mourn... Difficult stuff.

And it has me wondering how much we are called to embrace Christ so that the return happens. Is it relational? It seems in some ways that giving our lives over to Jesus as Lord requires us to cede power that our very evolutionary biology can't relinquish.

But as we strive for independence and control, do we leave ourselves unable to reach out to the living, relational God that waits on us? 

This is where my heart lingers today.

Lord, as I enter into a season of reflection, help me be mindful that I cannot change my mortality. And I can let go of the worldly things that tether me to worldliness and keep me from embracing you. Amen.

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