In worship services around the world many will hear the words, “Remember: you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Let’s take a peak at Webster and a few of the definitions of dust.
1. The ground; the earth’s surface.
2. The substance to which something, as the dead human, is ultimately reduced by disintegration or decay; earthly remains
a. ashes, refuse
4. a low or humble condition
5. anything worthless
Why would anyone want to be referred to as dust? Why do we need to be reminded, we are worthless?
Is there anything we can do to make ourselves right? Is there anyway we can make ourselves clean again? Unfortunately, the answer is NO there is nothing we can do. There is nothing we have to do. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us and make us whole. Only Jesus can lift us up out of the ashes and refuse of sin, we cannot do this on our own.
On our Church body’s website it states: “This ancient act is a gesture of repentance and a powerful reminder about the meaning of the day. Ashes can symbolize dust-to dustness and remind worshippers of the need for cleansing, scrubbing and purifying. If they are applied during an act of kneeling, the very posture of defeat and submission expresses humility before God.”
In order to understand what God has done for us, we need to remember we are poor miserable sinners, who deserve death and eternal damnation. No one would ever want to suffer eternally separated from God, if they truly understood what that meant. And yet, Jesus knew in order to keep us from what we deserve and have earned a thousand times each day. He had to take our place. Jesus suffered in agony on the cross for you and for me. We know the word crucifixion comes from the word excruciating, because of how much pain it inflicts upon the person sentenced to die. Physically the pain would be too much for anyone to bear but the greater anguish for Jesus was that He became separated from God. Jesus experienced the torment of hell when God the Father turned away from His Son. We do not know and understand how it happened. The great theologians cannot fully explain this mystery to us.
So as we kneel at the altar, and we are reminded we are worthless refuse who deserve to suffer Hell. We can joyfully remember we have been scrubbed, cleansed, and purified by the precious blood of Jesus.
In closing, I was going to share selected verses from Romans chapter 8. But I decided to share all of it. It takes awhile to read it but it is worth every moment.
May God fill you with His peace as we begin our Lenten Journey.
Life in the Spirit
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Heirs with Christ
12So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God’s Everlasting Love
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written,"For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.