Death is taboo. Even though we each will die, most of us will avoid talking about it. Probably because it’s unpleasant to be reminded that we aren’t immortal. We can dislike talking about it and yet I wonder if our lives wouldn’t be better if we did.
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday in the church. It’s the day that we remind ourselves of our own mortality, that none of us live forever, and that life has an end. It’s a solemn day and it’s a day that we talk about death. Each of us will have ash marked across our head, and a friend, or a pastor, or a priest will put them on us and say, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.” We are reminded this Wednesday that we will die.
And in that instance we can know God is God, and we are not. Our life in finite (as opposed to infinite) and the world turns, not because we are the center of it, but because God is. He is the ultimate creator and we, the creation – and that life is a gift that ends in death. We each die.
However, at the same time that we are reminded of our death, we are also reminded by whom we are saved. The ash that is put on our heads is made in the sign of a cross, the same sign we were marked with in baptism. It is the reminder that yes, we will die, and also that death has been overcome by Jesus who is our Lord, God and Savior. God, in Christ, has made a way for life after death. Therefore we are marked on Ash Wednesday in hope for the life that is to come.
So, tomorrow. Come and be marked in ash and grace. Be reminded that each of us will die – and that it all doesn’t depend on us, because God is God and we are not. –AND- be reminded that it is by God, and God’s grace alone in Jesus Christ, that there is life after death – and that you are loved, and you are saved because of what God has done.