"Remember that you are but dust, and to dust you shall return."
I had the privilege of being with a parishioner at a funeral home yesterday. It was a reminder that Ash Wednesday, the day we discover that we are but dust, comes to all of us.
Later, before the final Ash Wednesday service, while I was sitting, trying to prepare myself I read this in the 5th Chapter of 2nd Corinthians, the chapter that precedes yesterday's Ash Wednesday reading.
2 Corinthians 5:1-3
" 1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. "
I love the image of my body as a tent. I have an old tent in the garage. It still works, but it shows lots of wear, and there will be a day when it can no longer hold anyone.
My body will someday no longer be able to hold me. At that point St. Paul says I will get a body that has been shaped to live in the continuous presence of the living God.
So, what do I do with the tent I live in now? Do I leave my trash on the tent floor, do I relieve myself in the tent, do I let the dirt and grime accumulate? Or do I sweep the tent, throw away the trash, and cleanse myself?
Lent is the chance to come clean. A chance to confess to God, and perhaps to our priest, to a 12 step sponsor, to a trusted confidant, our sins, seeking pardon from God, and amendment of life.
While we have these old tents, let's use this Lent to sweep them clean.
Finally, let's remember that we have a guest who lives in this tent with us, and that our guest is with us wherever we are. Paul says the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our heavenly dwelling. He means that Holy Spirit came into us when we were baptized, when we accepted Christ, and that He is with us. So when we get ready to clean the tent, we have a partner who will help, who will show us what to throw away, and give us the strength to do so.
Come Holy Ghost and help me sweep this old tent. Blow new life in through the window and the door flaps. And when this old tent fall apart, carry me to that new land. Amen.