Ash Wednesday Devotion – “Ashes and Gratitude” By Dan and Kristine O’Connor
Today is Ash Wednesday. When I was younger I thought this was a morbid kind of day – who wants to be reminded that someday they were going to return to the earth and become dust. But now I find that Ash Wednesday is neither morbid, nor “bad news.” Ash Wednesday is a reminder that life has limits. Once we understand that, we can see that each and every day is a wonderful gift from God. Ash Wednesday says, “Remember that someday you are going to die. But today, you are alive, so live!” When taken seriously, Ash Wednesday gently (and not so gently) leads us to gratitude. Gratitude for life, for community, for family.
A couple of weeks ago, Kristine O’Connor sent me an email talking about gratitude. I asked her if she would expand her idea. Graciously, she has and now I’d like to share her words with You:
“How do we find contentment in this winter of discontent? During this pandemic, we all have the same feelings of loneliness or isolation from friends and family. We are all most likely tired of the snow and the cold, yearning for a warm spring day. But this can also be a time for self-reflection, a time to verbally reach out to friends or taking the time to drop a note to them in the mail. This is also a time to really count our blessings. Where would we be without a roof over our heads? When was the last time you had to wait in line to get food for your household? Our front-line medical teams have gone above and beyond in treating the population during this pandemic. And the medical research teams have worked long and hard hours to produce a safe vaccine to counteract this virus. “We hope you are finding that there is still love in this world -- all stemming from God's unconditional love. If we continue to focus on the positive and be thankful and so ever grateful for all our blessings, we can enjoy the little things that make up each day -- getting out of bed on our own, seeing a beautiful sunrise or sunset, running water, electricity, technology that allows us to keep in touch with family and friends, a simple cup of coffee. The list could go on and on and on. There is that old saying: "I opened up 2 gifts this morning --- they were my eyes!" Life is a gift and a blessing, even during a pandemic, as we remember those we have lost. “Harriet Crosby said ‘simple gratitude helps us experience God at work in every moment of every day’. The Bible says: ‘In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you’ -- 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is a day we remember we are human beings with a set span of life. Knowing that, how can you live in fullness today? What do you have to be thankful for?
And finally, given thanks to the God, who through Jesus promises us that when we become ash, it is not the end, for we too shall rise.
Today, let us give thanks, and be filled with gratitude and praise.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for providing and taking care of our needs. Lord, sometimes it’s even been needs that we didn’t know we had. May we always choose an attitude of gratitude and learn to count each of our blessing one by one. Amen.
~ God bless, Pastor Dan and Kristine
P.S. We will celebrate Ash Wednesday, tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Argyle Lutheran. During the service there will be imposition of ashes and also Holy Communion.