“For until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. Then they went home.” ~ John 20:9-10
Hello! I know it’s been a while. Sometimes I get these grand ideas of what I want to be writing and it doesn’t pan out because I need a break to sort things through. So, it may be ironic that I’m writing today on Ash Wednesday of all days when many people quit social media for 40 days, or quit sugar, or whatever.
Last year prior to Ash Wednesday, I had just preached my first sermon from John 20:19-31. I greatly identified with (and still do in many ways) Thomas. Otherwise known as “doubting” Thomas. I learned so much simply from asking questions and realizing asking those questions about faith and life wouldn’t destroy me like so many pastors growing up told me it would. And in studying about doubt and peace in the resurrection, that gave me hope that in asking all the questions even without answers, I was going to be ok.
Also, last year on Ash Wednesday, for the first time, I met my now partner and we’re getting married in April. What can I say? It’s been one wild ride since Lent last year.
This year I’ve circled back to John 20 but this time to the first part of the chapter. I’m fascinated by Mary Magdalene’s story woven throughout the gospels and her encounter with the Risen Christ. I know…I know. Lent is about suffering and focusing on repentance. We’re not at the Resurrection part of the story yet.
But Lent this year feels different. There’s a hope in the midst of the darkness and doubt I didn’t have last year. As I go through the gospels for Lent and realize Mary Magdalene was there at the crucifixion and burial of Jesus and didn’t lose hope when many of the other disciples did, this has caused me to hope more too. She’s an unlikely heroine in the story where men are highlighted and focused on more. And I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m thankful for unlikely heroines who suffer much but follow Jesus anyway and still have hope.
So, when the ashes are imposed on my forehead again this year, I will be reminded of something my pastor said in small group this week that we’re all God dust–or we’re all a part of God. We’re all a part of God and the story of redemption and restoration–even in the midst of suffering. And I’m sure I’ll tear up a little with a cross of ashes on my head for only the second time in my life. Because while we’re focusing on suffering and repentance, there’s more to life than those things. Death is with us but doesn’t have the final word.