“Word for Today” – 1 Corinthians 16 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

February 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm Leave a comment


I’ll never forget having my first realization that I was indeed getting older.  Then again, as I grow older and more forgetful, perhaps I will.  So while I still have my memory relatively in tact, allow me to share.  It was my sophomore year in high school.  I was taking a course in American literature when I began to realize that I could barely read the things my teacher was writing on the board!  Does that say “read pages 1-103” of The Scarlet Letter or “read pages 1-03”?  I think I like the second option better.

When I finally told my mother that everything was looking a little blurrier these days, her immediate response was, “We need to schedule you an appointment with the optometrist.  You need to have your eyes checked!”  “But mom,” I protested, “I’m only 15!  Glasses are for old people!”  Unfortunately, one week and one optometrist visit later, I became an old person.  I walked into my American literature class donning a pair of glasses.

It happens to all of us.  Eyesight dims.  Hearing gets muffled.  Joints get sore.  Physical stamina wanes.  We get old.  And we eventually pass on.  This is the sobering reality we remember this day.  Today, according to church tradition, is Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday has as its credo this sobering reminder:  “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).  According to Scripture, human beings were formed from dust (cf. Genesis 2:7) and because of sin, we will one day return there.  We will be buried in the dust upon our deaths.  The dimming eyesight and muffled hearing and sore joints and waning physical stamina are mere indications of the inexorable and inevitable dusty deaths that await us all.

Interestingly, we see a sign of dustiness in our reading for today from 1 Corinthians 16.  Paul, as he concludes his letter, includes this passing comment:  “I, Paul write this greeting in my own hand” (verse 21).  In the ancient world, it was not unusual to have an amanuensis (who was much like a secretary) pen a letter at someone else’s dictation.  Without the clear type settings that we enjoy today, this would insure an easily readable letter because of the professional penmanship.  Indeed, this was the reason many believe that Paul dictated his letters to an amanuensis.  Elsewhere, in a similar statement, Paul writes, “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand” (Galatians 6:11)!  Apparently, Paul had terrible penmanship.  He had to write in “large letters,” for his hands were shaky.  Was this because of arthritis?  Or Parkinson’s Disease?  Or Congenital Hyperinsulinism?  Who knows.  But we do know that we are receiving a slight glimpse into this apostle’s dusty mortality.  He was not always healthy.

“Dust you are and to dust you shall return.”  This is the credo of shaky hands and dimming eyesight.  And yet, that is not all Scripture has to say about dust.  As Daniel 12:2 reminds us:  “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake.”  Our dusty deaths do not have the last word, for Ash Wednesday always gives way to Easter.  And it is Easter that we are waiting for and watching for and preparing for, even as this Lenten Season begins.  And that is what I remind you of as I type this blog…by my own hand.

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Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 1 Corinthians 15 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 2 Corinthians 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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