St John Evangelical Lutheran Church

Espen's Ashes
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It was Ash Wednesday. Becca and our new baby, Espen, were in church together for the first time. As they approached the front of the church for the imposition of ashes, I wondered whose line they would choose: Pastor Lisa’s or mine? They chose mine. And so, on February 26th around 12:30 pm, I had the pleasure of telling my 16-day-old son “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”



I had a lot of feelings in that moment and they all happened too quickly to register on my face.

I felt joy at the sight of my baby in church for the first time.

I felt horror to be the one to remind him that his life won’t last forever.

I felt scared that he was out in public amidst viral threats unseen.

I felt wonder as I imagined the future of this dust-born life.

And I felt faithful remembering that we don’t go through life alone.

All those feelings happened in that short reminder of mortality. 


But that is one of our holiest privileges as pastors: to remind people (even our kids) that life is out of our control. Ash Wednesday is usually a very special and important day in the calendar of the church year. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that Ash Wednesday was going to turn into Ash March, and then Ash Spring, and possibly even Ash 2020.


As the Covid-19 outbreak rages, there are signs of ash all around us. Reminders of the dust. There is the deadly virus itself and then there are the countless other deaths that we have all experienced in the wake of this outbreak. The death of normalcy. The death of a job. The death of financial security. The death of physical connection. The death of a senior year. The death of things we were excited for: basketball tournaments, weddings, birthday parties, and so much more.


It seems like we are stuck in Ash Wednesday, being reminded constantly that everything we know is dust and to dust it can all quickly return.


But Ash Wednesday is not a celebration of the dust. It is not a day for despairing death. Rather, it is our strange way of finding hope. Because on Ash Wednesday, what is important is not the world we created for ourselves, but the world God gives to us and grace we receive every day.


So we remember that everything is dust, but we also remember that God can make anything out of dust. There are a lot of signs of new life around us right now – of God transforming the dust into life. At St John, our worship services and devotionals are reaching far greater audiences than they ever have before. Around the country people are connecting with family with a renewed sense of togetherness and dependency.


As you scroll through the pages of this newsletter, I invite you to look for signs of dust transformed.

Throughout this Ash March, Ash spring, or Ash 2020,


 “Remember you are dust, and God can make anything out of dust.”

Joe Natwick, Associate Pastor


Boy Scouts Monday, Nov 29 @ 6:30 PM
Quilters Tuesday, Nov 30 @ 8:30 AM
Staff Meeting Tuesday, Nov 30 @ 9:30 AM
Exec Trust Fund mtg Tuesday, Nov 30 @ 4:30 PM
Prairie Rose Chorus Tuesday, Nov 30 @ 5:30 PM

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St John Lutheran Church
146 6th AVE W
Dickinson, ND 58601

Phone: (701) 225-6747
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