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Day of the Dirt!

Fine, visual learners/people who read! Behold your cries and comments have come unto me.
Also I have an hour to kill before the next Ash Wednesday service, and there is not much to do in Show Low. (Motto: “Yes, that is our real name, why do you ask?”)

Here is my homily for today.
More to come on Adventure in Show Low.

Rev. Megan L Castellan
February 13, 2013
Ash Wednesday
Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

In my first call, part of my job was to be the chaplain to the preschool that was affiliated with our church. This was, by and large, a fun job. I told bible stories in weekly chapel, I led prayers at the Christmas concert and at ‘graduation’ and, generally speaking, the 3-4 year olds were theologically satisfied so long as I waved my hands around a lot, had good props, and was available for hugs when needed.
Until Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday was tricky.
It’s one thing to talk to full grown adults about the need for humility,and repentance, and to mark ashes on their foreheads. I’m even okay now with being told that I myself am dust, and to dust I will one day return.
But a four year old? How do you connect a the shining face of a child to repentance and mortality? I couldn’t quite get my arms around it.

So when I gave the children the ashes, I explained that this was a complicated day, but mainly this was a day about dirt. The stuff that we’re all made of, large or small, rich or poor, boy or girl, white or black, no matter who you are. This is the day that we remember the basic truth–we’re all made of the same stuff. And it is dirt.

They liked that. Toddlers love nothing more than an excuse to get dirty.

But the more I thought about it, the more it grew on me.

Today is about dirt. Ash Wednesday is about recalling dust– the down and dirty basics.
This is about coming back to the essential, rock bottom, core truths about ourselves, about God, and taking a good long look at them. Those things that remain, when everything ephemeral passes away.

Our lives, our relationship with our creator. Our relationships with those around us, and with the rest of the creation that God has made.

Ash Wednesday is when we kneel and consider the stark ground of our being. The dust, if you will. upon which every other part of our lives as Christians is based.

And so, doing this, there are two things that stand out to me.

First of all: we are but dust. We humans are but dust. And the reality of our fallen ness, our dirtiness is evident around us. Lest we get too excited or too proud of ourselves,all we have to do is look around, listen to the news, and we are confronted again with our propensity to fail. Our willingness to fall short. Our fallible, frail nature, and the inescable fact that we are mortal. We are dust. And at some point, each of us messes up, and ultimately, each of us returns to dust.

And second:: we are but dust. Miraculously, God has made us out of Dust! And God looked at us, little dirt creatures that we are, and declared us good. Not just tolerable, but so good that God decided that the Creator of the stars of night wanted to become a little dirt creature himself.

We are but dust. we are beloved down to our dust. We are forgiven down to our dust. And we are created, and redeemed, and sustained by that divine love and grace, though we are but dust.

May that basic knowledge, as basic and as fundamental as the ground beneath our feet, may that certainty sustain us through these next 40 days of Lent, and empower us to serve the world God came to save.


About megancastellan

Episcopal priest, writer, wearer of fancy shoes.

4 responses »

  1. Yay! Megan’s sermons are back. Count me among the visual learners/people who read.
    Of course, there is the podcasting option…

  2. I like all your work, Megan, but I especially enjoyed this one today.

  3. Ha! Dirt creatures….made me think….that’s what we are indeed. Loved your sermon and thank you!

  4. Thank you for your eloquent insights and sharing them with us.
    Barbara Cone, Ph.D.
    University of Arizona


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