I can’t help laughing when I read this. I have no idea who said it. Sounds like something a comedian might say. Humor often derives from irony and there is some serious irony at work here. First, as if it would ruin your Ash Wednesday to be reminded you’re going to die. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? We go to church, someone rubs ashes on our forehead and says, “From dust you came, to dust you shall return.” Yup! That’s it! I’m going to die someday. I might want to start living like that is a distinct possibility. I will stand before my Maker and give an account of my life. Sorry if that ruins your day!
None of us really likes to think about that or be reminded of our sin. We’re content thinking about someone else’s sin. But self-reflection, self-awareness, honesty about our own fallenness? Not so much.
On the other hand, this realization is freeing. I’m not caught in a never-ending loop. I get one shot at this deal. I should probably make the most of it. And I might not want to take myself, or life, itself, too seriously. I mean, we’re talking dust here. The good news is that Lent is going somewhere. There is the really painful journey to the cross, to suffering, to the realization that sin is costly and life is too short. But that’s not the end of the story. The real destination is resurrection.
This is why, in the Western Church, Sunday’s aren’t included in the forty days of Lent. Every Sunday is a little Easter. A time to recognize that the mess we’ve made of the world and life is being cleaned up, rectified, renewed because Jesus died and rose again.
Yes, it’s true: if Jesus tarries, we’re all going to die. But death doesn’t get the last word!