Ash Wednesday

I have a dirty secret. I suppose since you are here that you too have one. We share a dirty secret. And today we are ready to go public. We are ready to let the truth emerge, we are ready to walk from here with the mark of our origins plain for everyone to see, we are ready to admit our involvement with the strangers who share our dirt.
For some reason today all over the world people come in their droves to make the truth plain in a smudge of dirty ash on the brow. No one says we must, but so many of us do. And though we probably wonder why we do, or wonder what Lent means to us, or wonder even why we bother with God at all, our bodies seem to know better and they bring us here to celebrate the truth of our creation. We are creatures made from dust and dirt. Men and women of the soil. Children of earth. It is not only our feet which are clay, it is our whole self, every bit we hold in common with each other and with every other creature God has made.
We are an uppity people who like to think we have better origins. But while we might have a greater destiny we cannot turn away from the God who gave birth to us from the dirt and dust of this earth.
Lent is all about the question of roots. Who am I? Who am I really? When the paraphernalia are stripped away, when the rubbish is gone, when the pretence is put away, who am I? Who are we? When we are down to dust and dirt who do we find ourselves to be?
We ask this question every year because every year we forget. Every year we abandon our God-given home in the earth for a skyscraper of our making, built from our fantasies on a foundation of shifting sand. Lent brings us down to earth.
That in itself would be a blessing. To be once again ourselves. Comfortable with what we are. But Lent always looks to Easter. Easter can never happen in our secure dirt-free lives. Easter only happens to the people of dust who follow Jesus, the man of dust. Who go with him every year into the desert to ask with him the question of what we are and what we are to become.
So what we do today, we do for our own sake, and we do for his. So that he will not be alone on the way. So that he will not be forgotten. So that on Easter morning when he rises again from the womb of earth he will find a people who, because they know themselves, know him.