This Holy Week

Our foreheads were marked with the sign of the cross almost six weeks ago on Ash Wednesday as we began our journey to the cross. With the sign of the cross on our foreheads, the words “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; to dust you came, to dust you shall return” were spoken over us. Every time I mark a person’s forehead, I am reminded of their humanity and their mortality. It is especially hard when I mark the sign of the cross on a child’s forehead. Yet God declares that God will never leave us or forsake us. This Holy Week I am especially mindful of all who have gone before us including dear blogger Kara Tippetts who lost her battle with cancer a few weeks ago.

It is indeed a holy Week; a week in which we remember all Christ has done for us and experience so many emotions. It is a week in which we feel sadness but it also is a week in which we can be so very thankful. It is a week that walks us from the foot-washing of the disciple’s feet and gathering at the table, to the intensity we feel on the night of his crucifixion and death, to the hope that pours out when we come to the tomb and see the stone rolled away. It is a week that reminds us of the holy hopeful promise found in Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection.

But we cannot experience the promise of the Resurrection without first walking from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to that joy-filled Easter morning. Clarence W. Hall once wrote, “Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.” I find myself clinging to those words this week. There is such hope in knowing that death does not have the final word but that God does.

This Lent I have had the privilege of praying through my Facebook friends list. It is always such an enriching experience to pray for these friends. With their prayers in my heart and knowing how they have experienced their own deaths (death of relationship, death of life, etc), there is hope found in knowing that death does not and WILL NOT have the final word. I am again reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses; Psalm 30: verse five “Weeping may come for the night but joy comes with the morning.”

Tomorrow, on Maundy Thursday, we will gather at the table, with all of our brokenness, where God calls us to come, have our feet washed and eat and drink. Then on Good Friday, we are brought to our knees as Jesus is beaten and crucified. There is a eery stillness that comes over the world that night. But then three days later, we come to the tomb and find that the tomb has been rolled away. And we know that death has not had the last word, but that God does!

God sent God’s son into the world for each and every one of us. God loves us so THAT MUCH! And knowing that love, I find myself thankful for what Christ has done for me…..has done for all of us. But there is also a trembling that comes over me. I am reminded of the chorus to the African American spiritual “Were you There” “Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” And, my friends, this holy week I especially don’t want to forget that trembling; a trembling that is there as my feet are washed; a trembling that is there as I hear Jesus being beaten and crucified; and a trembling that is there when I come to the tomb and find it empty! Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!

I am linking up with these wonderful writers today: Holly Barrett for #TestimonyTuesday, 
Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory, Holly Gerth for Coffee for your Heart
and Angela Parlin at the #RaRaLinkup.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

My hands mark the sign of the cross
on the foreheads of those near and dear to me,
tears begin to trickle down my face
as I look into their eyes and say the words,
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.”

And as the ashes trace
the sign of the cross on their foreheads,
I am reminded of the mortality of each of them,
Reminded that death does and will come,
But also reminded of the love and mercy
of the One who promises He will
Never leave or forsake us.

Christ hung on the cross as he, too
was faced with his own mortality,
Giving the ultimate sacrifice,
Dying on the cross for each of us,
Again reminding us that
God will never leave or forsake us.

And so, as we leave with the
sign of the cross traced on our foreheads,
We again are reminded of our mortality;
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust”
“From Dust you came,
“To Dust you shall return.”

(Copyright Tara L. Ulrich)

Ash Wednesday

So I’m in a somber mood today….and I know why…it’s Ash Wednesday. I have always appreciated Ash Wednesday because it truly reminds me of what the journey to the cross is all about. I never felt it more than I did last January after the devestating earthquake in Haiti. In fact, I remember tears trickling down my face as I imposed the ashes on congregation members foreheads. As I looked into each of their faces, I was reminded of each of our mortality. The truth is that death will come but that God promises that he will never leave us or forsake us. God sent God’s Son to die for each of our sins. What a powerful gift that is! Today I find myself thinking about all those that have already died in my life; both my maternal grandparents, my best friend from high school, my friend Renee’s husband Ben, my cousin’s precious children and even recently a dear pastor of our synod who died unexpectedly. As I reflect on each of their deaths and once again am faced with mortality, I cant help but think of the gift that Lent is to us. WE NEED LENT! I think Dr. David Lose captures it best in his article. You can find it here The Trouble (and Blessing) of Lent. Lent isn’t meant to be all sunshine and roses. But rather is meant to remind us of the journey to the cross and what Christ died for us when he died on the cross! So may you remember these words,”Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes, From dust you came, From Dust you shall return”