Ashes to Dust

Read: Romans 5:12-19

Have you seen anyone today with a cross symbol on their forehead? Today is Ash Wednesday which symbolizes the beginning of the Lenten season. A time for Christians to practice renewal and reflection upon the life, sacrifice, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is a time for Christians to think seriously about our mortality, morality, and relationship with the creator of the universe. Various faith traditions use the season of Lent in different ways. Some give up things for the days leading up to Easter, others will take on new spiritual disciplines that help them focus and grow their faith.

If you have seen someone with a cross on their forehead today it most likely is a cross made from ashes. This is how author Kalas Ellsworth describes it… “Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes (formally called The Imposition of Ashes)on the foreheads of adherents as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.”

This made me think of the well known phrase “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Most people think that phrase is from the Bible when actually it comes from the book of common prayer and is often used as a eulogy at funerals. While it is not specifically found in scripture there are several passages that are similar to it. Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Job 30:19.

It testifies to the truth that we were created from the dust of the earth and one day will return to it. Our time on earth in our current bodies is limited. But this is where the hope of Christ comes in. Our soul is eternal and will live eternally because of the work of Jesus Christ. Romans 5 talks about Adam bringing sin into the world but Jesus coming to redeem us from that sin. (Old Adam, New Adam)

What a truth to celebrate in these days leading up to Easter! Our mortal bodies, plagued by sin, are replaced by grace, forgiveness, and eternity through our Savior Jesus Christ. That my friends is good news that can carry you through any week!

Make it personal: During Lent I encourage you to find a way to grow in your relationship with Jesus. It might be giving something up, it might mean starting something new, it might be something else. But find a way to grow during this time.

Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church