Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Most churches around the world will be repeating that phrase tomorrow night before putting ashes on the forehead or hand. Where does that phrase come from? And why do we say it?
This phrase comes from Genesis 3:19. Adam and Eve have broken their relationship with God. They have succumbed to the temptation to “be like God” and have followed the instructions of the serpent. God then begins listing the consequences of humanity declaring its independence from God. The last consequence of humanity’s rebellion is this:
“By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
God reminds us of our mortality. God formed Adam from the ground, breathing life into his lungs. One day, Adam will die, and will return to the ground.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
You may be wondering: Why in the world do we focus on such a depressing topic? I want to be uplifted and encouraged when I go to church; I do not want to contemplate my own mortality. Yet…this is how the church historically has begun the season of Lent. We begin with Ash Wednesday. We start the season by remembering that our very lives are in God’s hands.
We are completely dependent upon our creator. This is just the beginning. This is the start of Lent.
Then we begin a 40 day journey toward Easter. Easter is about resurrection. Easter is about Jesus conquering the grave. O death, where is your sting?
Lent begins with death and ends in resurrection.
I invite you to join us this Wednesday as we begin the journey toward Easter. We begin in celebration with a family friendly dinner of pancakes on Wednesday at 6:00pm. This is followed by an Ash Wednesday service at 7 pm (nursery care is available). Then on Sunday, we will begin a new series titled 40 Days of Growth. Each week you will be given a practical tool to help you grow spiritually throughout the season of Lent.
Let us remember: we are completely dependent upon God. And God is moving us toward new life.
See you tomorrow!