On Ash Wednesday, we confess our sins of Mardi Gras.


Last night parades marched down streets all over the world. Dancers in elaborate costumes danced. Partiers around the globe partied. Musicians played beats and sounds that kept party going. The crowds took in Mardi Gras or Carnival. Maybe some of us ate pancakes and maple syrup. Maybe we cut off or shrived the fat of ham and sausages for Shrove Tuesday.

Tuesday was the last day of normal. They last day of full flavoured enjoyment. The day to use up the fat and the sugar in the house. It was almost like the day to finish the Christmas baking, to leave the last of the holidays behind.

Because today the fasting begins. Today we begin towards a different part of the story. The wondrous births, the visits from foreign kings, the dramatic baptisms, the mountain top wonders are done.

Today, we descend into the valley of Ashes. Today we hear the words:

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.

When God reached down into the dirt of creation, when God grabbed the dirt in God’s hands, felt the dust and clay between God’s fingers, do you supposed God knew that the Adam, the first human of creation, the dirtling, was what would be made. Or did it take a while for Adam to take shape? Did God need to work the dirt before Adam appeared?

Adam was created from dust and ash, from dirt. He was formed and moulded with God’s very hands, and Eve too was formed in the dirt, for she was split from Adam.

Did God know then, as God worked the dirt into torso and arms and legs that Adam and Eve would eat the fruit? Did God know as hands and feet were formed, as finger nails and hair, eyes and teeth took shape that the human beings would choose power and temptation? Did God know as God breathed breath into their lungs and brought them to life that the Adam and the Eve, the dirt creatures would choose the fat, the wild abandon, the risk of death? Did God know that they would choose Mardi Gras without knowing it would lead them to Ash Wednesday?

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. 

On Ash Wednesday, we confess. We confess our sins of Mardi Gras. We confess our original sin. We confess that we choose ourselves, our own pleasure, our own comfort, our own security, our own fears, our own neurosis ahead of others. We confess that we cannot see beyond ourselves, we cannot escape our selfishness, we cannot stop getting in our own way.

Today, we confess our sins and we mark ourselves with Ash.

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. 

Today, we cannot escape that the consequences of our choices mean death. Adam and Eve ate the fruit and they died. Abraham and Sarah laughed at God and they died. Moses lashed out in rage, and he died. King David lusted for Bathsheba and he died. Peter denied Christ and he too was crucified. Paul murdered Christians and he rotted in prison.

Their choices meant death.

And our choices mean death.

We let the weak and vulnerable fend for themselves. We make our world sick for the sake of stuff. We allow a few to hoard much and call greed “good business”. We call for war because we are more afraid of people on the other side of the earth than we are of the injustices and tragedies that are killing us here.

We keep choosing the fruit. The fat. Mardi Gras.

As if we forget that our choices lead to Ashes.

And so today, God says

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

But God doesn’t leave us in the dust. God doesn’t let our Mardi Gras choice be the end of us.

On Ash Wednesday God reminds who we are, but also who God is.

God says Remember that you are dust because I became dust with you.

To dust you shall return because I returned from the dust as well.

Remember that you are my dust and I am your dust.

Remember that I became dust on the cross, and returned from the dust as I walked from the empty tomb.

Remember that I returned your fruit. I returned your fat. I turned Mardi Gras into Ash Wednesday. And Ash Wednesday into Good Friday. And Good Friday into the 3rd day, the First Day of the Week.

Today, the choices of yesterday, our Mardi Gras choices, our choices of self before others, our choices of now before the future, our choice of consumption and destruction over conservation and reconciliation. Our choices lead us to ashes and to death.

Remember, that you are dust and to dust you shall return, says the Lord.

But remember also, says the Lord, that I am the one who formed you from the dust and dirt. I am the one who held you in my hands, who first loved you. I am the one who breathed life into you.

I did it once, says the Lord… and I will do it again.


2 thoughts on “On Ash Wednesday, we confess our sins of Mardi Gras.”

  1. You did it again – reminded me how self-centered and despicable I am as you reminded me from whom I came and where I am going. You’ve got me thinking about Paul with the choices I am making in between my beginning and my end, I do what I do not want to do – my Mardi Gras choices. Sometimes it is hard to fathom He continues to love us. I think your message is powerful. He did it once and I am counting on his word that He will do it again. Hope.

    Liked by 1 person

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