jump to navigation

Remember you are but dust… 5 March 2014

Posted by Dr Moose in Chaplaincy, Faith, Ponderings.
Tags: , , , ,

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent within the Western Christian Church: a day when the faithful and, perhaps not so faithful, are invited to begin a time of self-examination in preparation for Easter and the commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ, the highest and holiest Christian Festival.

It is also a day when in much of popular culture a significant portion of the population, for a number of reasons, seek to bend their bodily needs in line with their wills and resolve to do something different until Easter Sunday, most normally in the form of “giving up.” Usual luxuries, habits or obsessions include such items as chocolate, alcohol or coffee. (Some wit suggested I give up the coffee for Lent… I’m still trying to find the best place to hide the body!) For the record I’m trying to cut out alcohol, except when consumed for liturgical purposes, which means that I would have an excellent reason to institute daily Holy Communion services at the University Chaplaincy…

It should come as no surprise to you that I celebrated Holy Communion today, along with the practice of the Imposition of Ashes for all who wished to receive them. That in itself is not unusual, although the presence of a mature, International, Muslim student most definitely was. He wanted to see and learn more of how Christians did things, after being at prayer behind the curtain that separates our large prayer room last week and hearing some of the service then. His presence certainly made me think, as well as the fact that he willingly received the sign of the Cross on his forehead, traced in Palm Ash. I suspect there was little in the readings he would have objected to either, what with Isaiah expounding the true manner of fasting (Is 58:1-12) and Jesus gentle treatment of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11); Allah is, after all, spoken of in the language of compassion and mercy. A reminder, perhaps, that for all our very real differences we have very much in common too.

Even more surprising, as the day wore on, were the three students, all Roman Catholic and all female, who showed up in Chaplaincy asking to be ashed, simply through having seen the sign on the A-frame advertising the service (and combined by timely reminders from Mum, in at least one case!) That I was C of E was not an issue, that the imposition of ashes was on offer was. And does it matter that I’d never seen them before? No. Nor does it matter that I may never see them again, although I hope I do. The older I get the more generous I become, the more relaxed in my judgement (although I did not offer the bread and wine to the Muslim visitor, although I suspect he would have taken them!) and the more, I hope, open to the surprises and glimpses of glory that God drops into my path.

“Remember you are but dust, and to dust you shall return.
Turn away from your sins and be faithful to Christ.”

A time to remember that we are all formed of the dust, but all open to the light. And ultimately, of course, all the dust, even our dull earthliness, is the stuff of stars.



No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: