A week or so ago I watched some snowboarders flying across the ice on Lake Leelanau holding on to a line affixed to a kite. Wow what fun it must be to sail at those speeds. The wind, the exhilarating speed, the thrill of the challenge was so intriguing that I really wanted to try it myself. Because my brother lives near a lake, I asked him where I might be able to get the equipment. He knew right away of someone who was selling some…unfortunately because he had caught a gust of wind that took him several feet up in the air and then dropped him in a pile on the ice. It apparently is not quite as soft as landing on water in its liquid state. Oow, that must smart! I decided that perhaps I should hold off on any purchases at the moment.
Most of us feel invincible at some time in our life. Usually it is when we are young, healthy, and before any calamity drops us in our tracks. Even when we hear of someone dying, we still seem to feel that such an end just doesn’t apply to us. Even someone else’s accident may not convince us of our own vulnerability.
We are all familiar with the words ‘thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return’ used on Ash Wednesday as the priest makes a sign of the cross on the foreheads of the congregation. Another option is taken from the Gospel of Mark that is noted in today’s Lenten reading, ‘repent and believe in the gospel’. Both versions are intended to catch our attention so we can realize the fragile nature of life and the great need we have to attend to spiritual matters before the end of life takes us off guard. As I was making the sign of the cross on foreheads with ashes, I couldn’t help to reflect on another version that was given by my five year old granddaughter on Tuesday evening when she looked at me and said, ‘grandpa, your teeth are going to fall out and you are going to die’. Perhaps it was not as diplomatic as the ‘thou art dust’ version, but definitely more likely to grab one’s attention as it did mine.
Jesus knew of our vulnerable nature as He preached His Kingdom message while healing the lives of the fragile humans He encountered everywhere He went. He was one of us and knew that even Lazarus would one day die again. Yet He persisted in His mission; healing and loving. He constantly demonstrated by His persistence that we were worth the effort and every ounce of His strength because He had made us in His own image. Yes we were made fragile by sin but could be immortal with Him forever. The value He placed on life was infinite.
Deacon Doug Wigton