Memento Mori

March 6, 2019

I’ve never spent much time contemplating death until August 25. As days went on and the symptoms that had dissipated came back with the roar, I found myself thinking of what would’ve happened if this had occurred while we were on vacation in Egypt or if I was asleep. Luke Perry’s death brought all those feelings to light once again. We are human. We are mortal. It is important to consider that in light of the life we lead. Remembering our mortality helps reorder our priorities; a race toward a finish line has a different sense of urgency than a jog around the block.

Many early Christian communities encouraged believers to engage in the spiritual discipline of considering their own deaths—not to create morbid fear but to put this life in the proper perspective. “Memento mori,” medieval monks would say to each other in the hallways. “Remember your mortality,” or, more literally, “Remember that you will die.”

Today is Ash Wednesday. Because the church I work in and chose to attend prior has its roots in the conservative Baptist tradition, we celebrate the fact that we celebrate Ash Wednesday is a bit unusual. For those of you who are unaccustomed to the Christian liturgical calendar, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a 40-day time of reflection and often, fasting. Today people around the world gathered together to commemorate this season of repentance and reflection in preparation for the celebration of Easter. The ashes represent the fact that our lives are like dust and to dust, we will return. It is a time to consider our mortality.

For the past few years, I have started my day with this online Lenten devotional that includes art, scripture, poetry, and reflection. I encourage you to take a look and consider taking time to prepare your heart and mind for the commemoration of Christ’s resurrection.

I am thankful that I have friends from many different persuasions and I know many of you do not fully understand the importance or need to follow Jesus. I have made in my life’s work to proclaim that good news. I encourage you, friend, take this time to consider Jesus and his teaching. I would love to listen to anyone that has questions or wants to talk. I love my wife, my colleagues, And my cure team but I’d like to get out, grab a coffee, and speak with any of you.

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that the ashes we receive in Lent may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior.
(From the Anglican Book of Common Prayer)

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