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Posted by Dr. Scott Solberg on Feb 14, 2018

What is Man?

ASH WEDNESDAY is the beginning of a forty day period leading to Easter Sunday known as Lent.

While the observance of Lent is optional, the disciplines practiced during Lent are not. The disciplines of prayer, confession, fasting and the giving of alms are assumed by Jesus.  Jesus says in Matthew 6, “When you give alms…when you fast…when you pray.”

For those who do observe Ash Wednesday, the receiving of ashes to their forehead is a stark reminder that “from dust you have come and to dust you shall return.” It is a reminder of our mortality.

Psalm 90 likens our brief journey through life to a dream that quickly comes and goes or to grass that quickly fades away. James reminds us that our life is like a vapor that quickly dissipates into thin air. This is a call for a heavy dose of humility. Psalm 62:8 puts us in our place by saying, “Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion.”

Reflecting on this, we can resonate with David, who pondered out loud in Psalm 8, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

But God is mindful of us! God does care for us! This fusion of Ash Wednesday to Valentine’s Day is so appropriate.

In Psalm 103:14, David reminds us that God “knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” And so he is compassionate towards us. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.”

Of course, this forty day journey to Easter Sunday, takes us to the cross, where God’s love is on full display for us. And when we gather on Easter Sunday to proclaim that Jesus has risen from the dead, we affirm our sure hope that the “perishable inherits the imperishable” and “this mortal body must put on immortality.”

So whether or not it is your tradition to celebrate Ash Wednesday or Valentine’s Day, may the spirit of these days mark you. James 4:10 sums up the spirit of this day when he says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”