Even Ashes have a Purpose

On this Sunday before Ash Wednesday, it’s appropriate that today’s readings focus on humble men who remember their role: as earthen vessels, made primarily of dust and ashes, designed to contain and dispense the word of God. Our maker chose his ingredients well. They did their jobs and the effects of their service have lasted to this day.

None of them had any illusions of grandeur about who they were. They said so themselves:

 Jeremiah: “I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips;”

 But with a little angelic prompting, and upon hearing God’s call for a messenger, Jeremiah volunteered for duty: “Send me.”

 Paul: “I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

 But by the grace of God … “I am what I am. … so we preached and so you believed.”

 Peter: [upon seeing the huge catch of fish made possible by Jesus’ command] “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.

 But Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men.”

 So as we approach Lent, it’s good to remember that we are nothing but ashes.

 But in God’s universe, when combined with a bit of his spit and shaped by his hands, we are all useful dispensers of his truth. And because his truth lasts forever, we are promised an eternal role—even though we’re essentially dust and ashes.


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