A day of repentance and a day of hope in the face of our mortality.
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Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a gateway to setting our sights in reverence and awe on the Passion of our Lord. Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes—our sinfulness and our human mortality.
“For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”
Genesis 3: 19 New Living Translation
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”
Romans 5:12 New Living Translation
It is traditional to save palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday church service, which are burned to produce ashes for the following Ash Wednesday. When a pastor places the ashes on the forehead, it is an outward sign of our sorrow and repentance for sins. It is a reminder of the rock bottom reality of life in a fallen world.
But the ashes are also made in the sign of the cross—the pain and suffering which our Lord took upon himself as the punishment for our sin, in our place. The cross of ashes reminds us that we are sinners, and that Christ died for us sinners.
“Anyone can be made right with God by the free gift of His loving-favor. It is Jesus Christ Who bought them with His blood and made them free from their sins. God gave Jesus Christ to the world. Men’s sins can be forgiven through the blood of Christ when they put their trust in Him. God gave His Son Jesus Christ to show how right He is. Before this, God did not look on the sins that were done. But now God proves that He is right in saving men from sin. He shows that He is the One Who has no sin. God makes anyone right with Himself who puts his trust in Jesus.”
Romans 3:24-26 New Life Version
“We thank God for His loving-favor to us. He gave this loving-favor to us through His much-loved Son. Because of the blood of Christ, we are bought and made free from the punishment of sin. And because of His blood, our sins are forgiven. His loving-favor to us is so rich. He was so willing to give all of this to us. He did this with wisdom and understanding.”
Ephesians 1:6-8 New Life Version
Even though we are closer to death every day, we have hope and faith in Christ who became dust through death on a cross. But He overcame the ashes of death at His resurrection to bless us with a life that never ends.
Now we have access to our Heavenly Father through His death and resurrection. We can approach His throne of grace with confidence, knowing how much He loves us as He proved through His death. This loving sacrifice was made for me and for YOU! If you know Him as your Lord and Savior, rededicate yourself to Him this Lenten season. If you do not know Him, approach Him today. He loves you and wants you to know peace through His forgiveness. He wants to spend forever with you, even after you return to dust at your death.
Jesus, I need to be rescued from my sin, my guilt and my fears, especially of returning to dust with no hope for eternity. I choose now to turn from my sins, my self-centeredness, and every part of my life that does not please you. I choose you. I give myself to you. I receive your love and forgiveness and ask you to be my Savior and Lord. Come live in my heart, fill me with your love and your life, and help me to become a person who truly loves like you do. Restore me, Jesus. Live in me. Love through me. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
Copyright text and photo Desiree Bustamante