Dust is our destiny!
Throughout the history of mankind human beings have been trying to figure out how to beat death. There have been many upon many attempts to extend life and defeat death. Yet, the inevitability of death has eventually one out in every case accept a couple. And those are situations which are recorded in Holy Scripture: Enoch who walked with God (Genesis 5:22, 24; Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah who went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:11). Other than these two accounts there is no recorded information which gives us an understanding that a human being has lived forever or at some point not succumbed to death in their lifetime.
Even in the case of Jesus Christ we hear the detailed account of his death taking place, while he was being hung on a cross (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30) The difference with Jesus is the very fact he did not stay dead, but instead rose from the grave, on Easter morning, never to die again (Matthew 28:6-7; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6-7; John 20:8-9).
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season. This is the worship service where we do the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of God’s people. This reminds us that from dust we are and to dust we shall return. Because of the sin in our lives we will one day (unless Jesus Christ comes a second time to judge the living and the dead) pass from this life in death. Scripture tells us the wages of sin is death and we shall return to the ground. This is brought to light when we have an internment of a person’s body or their ashes after they have died. It is at this time we speak the words “earth to earth; ashes to ashes; dust to dust” and make a sign of the cross on the casket or near the urn with dirt or dust residue.
Ash Wednesday initiates the somber beginning into the journey we will be taking throughout the 40 days of Lent. It will set before us a time for us to be immersed in personal reflection, confession, and a crying out to the Lord for mercy and forgiveness. It is also a time for us to make remembering Jesus’ suffering and death for our sins an intentional and necessary part of the Lenten journey. Yes, ashes on our foreheads is an image we should take serious because it is the reality of our earthly destiny. But thanks be to God this is not the end, but is only the beginning into eternity, an eternity we will spend with our Lord as redeemed sinners and saved saints. Pastor McCarty