Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. On Ash Wednesday we put ashes on our foreheads made from the palm branches from last year's Palm Sunday. We do this as a reminder of our mortality (from dust we came and to dust we will return). It's a day to reflect on the fleeting nature of life and to consider our priorities - what is really driving our lives.
The writer of Ecclesiastes begins with a a pretty somber opening:
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
This book pushes us to ask the most difficult questions in life. The kind of questions that we often try to drown out or ignore - but the questions we will most certainly be asking on our deathbed.
At the end of the day, what does our life mean? What has it all been for? What difference does my life make?
The reality of how fleeting and relatively insignificant our existence is in the grand scheme of the universe can be really depressing. OR. It can be absolutely freeing.
We can choose to ignore the reality of our humanity, avoiding this truth as though it will plunge us into some darkness that we will not be able to see through. Or we can embrace it. We can recognize the humbleness of our existence, and realize the silliness of human empire and arrogance and perhaps... perhaps... learn to fully appreciate and experience the moments that we have as the gift that they are.
Finitude is what makes life sweet. The moments we have become precious and more meaningful precisely because there is an end to them, not in spite of that fact.
Jesus teaches us not to set our hearts on the things of this earth where moths and rust destroy. This and everything we see is temporary. That doesn't mean it is insignificant. When we truly let go, and open our hearts to both the gift and the Giver, we realize the true beauty and mystery that surrounds us and the even deeper reality that God - the one who holds it all together - is able to breath meaning into our meaninglessness.
(If you get this email in time, come join us for worship tonight at 6 PM).
Grace and peace,