This Wednesday we begin our journey to the Cross of Good Friday. Our celebration at Our Redeemer will be marked with the imposition of ashes and holy communion. (There will be two services – one at 10:00 a.m. and another at 6:30 p.m.)
It is interesting to me that the same cross that was placed upon the forehead of the baptized is retraced this Wednesday in dust and ash. What is not seen on a normal basis becomes something seen on Ash Wednesday. Marked by the dust of the earth, the very work and merit of Christ is made known for us – personally for each of us. We feel the grit and the dust. We see the cross in the mirror and its presence is felt vaguely all day. Luther wrote in his small catechism that we should start and end our day by tracing the holy cross upon ourselves. So also we start the season of Lent with the sign of the cross made upon our heads.
This is why I love the liturgical year – the ebb and flow of the year uses our senses to remind us of the promises and work of Jesus. God engages our bodies in the feeding and nourishing of Word and Sacrament. Good Friday is seen for us, albeit dimly, upon our foreheads this Wednesday. We are reminded that it is death that has now become a gate to life. No longer does it have a sting. No longer can it trap us and hunt us. Now death is a slave of Christ and our death is undone.
Reminded of Christ’s work on the cross, we will then proclaim that death again in the celebration of the Supper. There, at the communion rail, the Our Redeemer family will join your family in the participation of the body of Christ and the blood of Christ. We’ll see you Wednesday.