Do you remember the first time you started to feel your mortality? Or perhaps, the first time you realized their was something wrong with your body? Your mind? At some point (for me it was my twenties), I started having aches and pains in my back and my feet.

Certainly there was some relief. But if I’m honest, neither of those two wounds have ever fully healed. My back continues to ache, and my feet continue to hurt.

These physical ailments offer us an opportunity-that is, to remind us of our mortality. Yes, Jesus has already destroyed sin and death. Yes, we live in the tension of the “already and not yet” of God’s kingdom, but perhaps Lent offers us an opportunity to experience the “not yet” of God’s salvation story at a deeper level.

It’s Ash Wednesday today (at least for those Catholics and Protestants who celebrate it). Ash Wednesday provides our entrée into the season of Lent. A season where we recognize the reality that we were made from dust, and to dust eventually we will return. It’s a sobering thought, and one we generally avoid as much as possible. And because of this, it is also a gift to us, though perhaps a difficult gift to receive.

The season of Lent is also a season in which our spiritual brokenness can be experienced in light of the larger story of God’s sovereign plan. A plan that includes more than merely creating us and saving us, but also one day restoring us in fullness, not just spiritually, but even providing us one day with new bodies, a wholesale restoration of body, mind, and spirit.


Sermon Illustrations on Aging

But right now, here-on-earth…we have this opportunity to reflect upon our mortality, to remind ourselves of a fact we ignore as much as possible-that we will not be here forever. Generations upon generations have come before us, and each has had its time. But ultimately, they have succumbed to the same death we will face some day.

So my hope for you today, as you write your sermons, burn your palm fronds and prepare your ashes, is that you will also be preparing your hearts, that you will meditate on these great themes not merely for those you shepherd, but for your own souls.

It also seems a fitting subject that on Ash Wednesday we receive our next installment in Mark D. Roberts’ series on aging, known as the Third Third of Life. Mark shares more resources on the subject, helping us consider how we might pastor intentionally to those living in their final third of life (on earth).

So may God bless you as you remember your mortality, as well as the one who will restore all of creation, including you, some day.

Stuart Strachan Jr. is an ordained Presbyterian Pastor as well as the founder and lead curator of the Pastor’s Workshop. He loves preaching, teaching, and helping churches cast vision for what it means to follow Jesus in the 21st Century. He has served churches in a variety of capacities in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Stu is married to Colleen, who currently serves as a spiritual formation lead at Compassion International in Colorado Springs. Stu and Colleen have two children (Jack and Emma) whom they love deeply.

In his free time, Stu enjoys gardening, golf, reading a good book, and watching baseball.

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