I worshipped with my clergy colleagues earlier today at a Board of Ordained Ministry meeting. The liturgy was geared towards us - towards our call to be spiritual leaders and our need to let go of ourselves. We were reminded that it does not matter what role we play, what appointment we are in, or how many people are in our congregations. We are all dust and to dust we shall return.
These are the words of Ash Wednesday. Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. I felt the grit on my forehead. I looked at the smudged cross in the mirror of the restaurant bathroom. I thought about dust. I have since thought a lot about life.
If we journey through this season well, I believe we find life and not death. Sure we all have to journey through the cross of Good Friday but we are all on our way to the resurrection celebrated on Easter morning. We are journeying through a season that ends with resurrection and the life offered through this magnificent gift.
What does it mean for us to choose life? As I have wrestled with this question I have found my heart being called back to its center - back to the place where I believe Christ calls me to be.
When I choose life, I realize again that my body is a temple and my health is a precious gift from God. Choosing life means being more aware of what I put into my body and how I treat my body. Choosing life means making physical activity a priority instead of something done on my day off. It means making salads and staying away from drive-through windows. It means limiting my caffeine intake and watching my empty calories. It means embodying the discipline needed to get weight off that has crept on since our wedding. Choose life.
When I choose life, I realize that life is best spent in community. My heart is most fully alive when I am with others. I love the community that gathers on Sunday mornings in the church I serve. I love the community of my friends and family. I need to spend more time with these precious people. I need to make community a priority. Choose life.
When I choose life, I realize that I can never be fully human if another is not allowed to be fully human - my humanity is wrapped up in your humanity. Choosing life means working for equality for all people. It means seeking to make a difference in the world. It means acknowledging the hurt and pain of others. Choose life.
When I choose life, I realize how little things make a big difference. I imagine the joy of writing personal notes that let someone know I am thinking of them. I think about the reward that comes from selecting cards at the Hallmark Store that are sent for no reason other than to say, "I think you are wonderful" or "I'm thinking of you today," or "Thanks for being you," or "I'm praying for you." Choose life.
When I choose life, I realize that Jesus is the most important thing in my life. Because he lives I really can face tomorrow - in all my shortcomings. Because he lives, I know how to care for others - how to love others, how to be with others. Because he lives, there is nothing I should be afraid of. Because he lives, every Sunday really is a little Easter - a celebration of his resurrection and life that demands the best from me. I need to spend more time with Jesus - reading the scriptures, praying to him, seeking to follow him, serving like him, forgiving like him, living like him. Choose life.
My Lenten discipline is to choose life - to repent of my sin but to then accept the freedom God gives me to live - to really live. Thanks be to God. Amen!