A note from Bishop Dillahunt: Ash Wednesday Reflection

Ash Wednesday: Dust and Ashes

“Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3).

Familiar words for Ash Wednesday. I am not going to tell you anything you don’t already know but we are entering a second Lenten season still dusty with the ashes of COVID-19, suffering, illness, death, racial tensions, unrest, bitterness, unemployment, underemployment, loneliness, despair, restlessness, uneasiness, longing for seeing each other again in person. Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

Dusty. Ashy. Lent shows us our humanity, our fragility and helps us focus on what we are acutely were of…we are human, we are sinful and we need a Savior. Dust and ashes are all around us and we lament: Oh Lord how long? We pray: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. But Lent helps us beyond helplessness to ask the questions: How are we living beyond what is in front of us? Where is hope, wonder, curiosity and imagination?

Dusty. Ashy. Think about this: Some of you have received ashes in baggies at home or you’ll pick them up at church by Wednesday. Even if you don’t have ashes, make the sign of the cross on your forehead or hand. And remember Baptism. Where is our hope? In the water and the word we are given new life, forgiveness, mercy and grace.

Wash the dust and ash away. We pray that God grant strength to the weak and comfort to all who suffer. We pray for the end of violence, terrorism, war and their causes and we pray for peace and reconciliation. We pray for the Church that we may be one in Jesus’ name. We pray for the gift of Baptism that it be a healing power for our brokenness. We pray that mercy, grace and love be part of lives.

The prophet Joel reminds us, “rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for his is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.” (Joel 2:13)

Dear Southern Ohio Synod mission territory, I, we, in the Bishop’s Office will continue to pray for you in this season of dust and ash, knowing we have imagination and hope in the one Lord Jesus Christ. Easter Comes!

Have a blessed Ash Wednesday and Lenten Season and as we did last year, we plan on having a worship in Holy Week, via video.

In Christ,

Bishop Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt