Gen. 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Shmuel Agnon, the nobel literature prize winner, was once asked if Judaism ever had anything like Lent. Did Judaism ever practice 40 days of fasting? No that didn’t happen. But something amazing and awe inspiring happens from New Year (Rosh Hashanah) to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Ten days of awe. After a pause and think he replied, “Yes, the Days of Awe.”
In many churches the Lenten season will begin with the minister speaking those ancient words, “Remember we are dust and to dust we shall return.” Lent reminds us of our mortality. More importantly Lent restores in us a sense of and wonder.
When God made humanity, he took lifeless, cosmic dust and breathed life into us. We became living souls. When we turned our back on Him, we chose entropy and dust. God would not leave us to death, but rather became one of us, even death and at that death on a cross. It is in Lent that we remember that God who gives life gave up his life that we would never ever have to return to the dust from where we came.
May these Lenten days be Days of Awe…