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Ash Wednesday Greeting

When I was in the third grade, my grandparent’s shoe and clothing business burned to the ground—literally. I distinctly remember standing on the parking lot with my family and seeing a big rectangle of thick, black ash. That was all that was left. We eventually found a few small items that survived, but everything else was reduced to this pile of ash. I think about that day almost every Ash Wednesday as the black, sooty cross is traced on my forehead and I hear the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” I saw a tangible reminder of that fact after the fire that I carry with me. I also saw new life emerge from those ashes when the community came together to clean up and start over.

That’s what Jesus does for us, too—cleans us up and gives us new life—a chance to start over when we’ve made a mess of things.

On Ash Wednesday, we face our own mortality—not only our physical death, but the “little deaths” all along the way as a result of our sin.

In The Invitation To Lent we hear, “We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance and for God’s mercy. We are created to experience joy in communion with God, to love one another, and to live in harmony with creation. But our sinful rebellion separates us from God, our neighbors, and creation, so that we do not enjoy the life our creator intended.” Throughout this season we will be called through Scripture to be renewed in Christ and to share His love through praying, fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love. We will be assured of God’s great love for us through Jesus’ action on the cross.

I pray that in this season you will find rest and renewal; that your passion for sharing Christ’s love will be rekindled and that you will know more fully the great love Jesus has for you.

Peace be yours,

+Bishop Paula Schmitt


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