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Dust - Pastor's Pen for 18th Feb 2024

Dead tree, Schnapper Rock Rd.

I went to an Ash Wednesday service today at St. Peters, Takapuna. I don't think I have ever been to one before, somewhat surprisingly. Essentially it was a service of repentance, full of scripture, with readings from the Old Testament, a Psalm, an Epistle and a Gospel. The Gospel, the word of Christ, was given special reverence, as we stood for its reading.

We remembered in the service that we are made from dust, and ash was placed on the forehead of each congregant in the form of the cross, as a striking, visual reminder. I must say I was moved by the whole thing.

In Genesis 2:7 we read; "then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being."

This theme of the temporary nature of earthly life can be traced throughout the scripture, and we struggle with sin and brokenness as surely as we draw breath each day. God-breathed life and the dust of death are mixed together in us.

This knowledge could overwhelm us if it were not for the abiding love of God for the people God has made. The Psalmist reminds us; "the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust." (Ps 103: 13-14) As we enter into the season of Lent with the knowledge that we are dust on the one hand, also in the other hand we carry the knowledge that God loved us so much, He came to hang on the stark tree of Calvary for us. May you know in your hearts the overwhelming compassion of Jesus Christ in this season.

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