One of my go to people as I prepare for a sermon is Paul J. Nuechterlein, a Lutheran chap who runs https://girardianlectionary.net . As I sat to write this brief reflection for Ash Wednesday, I checked out his site. What did I find but his idea of a “Green Ash Wednesday”. His idea is rooted in a Hebrew word from which we get dust, as in “remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” as the ashes are imposed on our foreheads. That word is Adamah, and according to Nuechterlein, it is the basis of our idea of dust. Now, I think he’s pushing it a bit; the word for dust in Hebrew is afar, and so is a little different, but, I am intrigued by his thinking. You see Adamah (it’s the word from which we get “Adam”) means “earth”. (Adam means “earth creature” and in Biblical Hebrew it’s not a person’s name but I digress!). Given this idea of Adamah and that it could be broadly translated as ‘dust’, Nuechterlein suggests that when we impose ashes, we say, “Remember you are earth, and to earth you shall return.”
And if we are from the earth, and to earth we shall return, what might change in how we understand our relationship with her? I’m curious about where this idea takes you?
And, it is Ash Wednesday that begins lent, and in keeping with a “Green Ash Wednesday”, please don’t forget to join us in a “carbon fast.” I spoke about carbon fasting at a 40 Minute Forum a few weeks ago. Originally developed in the Church of England in 2008, it is a spiritual practice which helps individuals and communities to turn back to a way of life that honours God’s call to love the whole world and care for the most vulnerable.
A carbon fast might include;
There are all sorts of ways to carbon fast. And we’ll celebrate ending our fasts together on Palm Sunday.
I look forward to sharing this time with you all.