Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the mark of the season of Lent. Many Christians will receive ashes on their foreheads in the form of a cross. When one receives this mark, along with the words: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), it is a humbling and solemn occasion. It is hard for us to hear these words, even though we know it is the truth about us.
People tend to leave the ashes on their foreheads for the rest of the day as a reminder to themselves and a witness to others. Our Lutheran theology grounds us in Christ, who forgives us through his dying and rising again. We are fully sinners in need of repentance and we are fully saints, given a new beginning each day. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives.
Yes, we receive the cross of ashes, symbolizing death. And because of Christ, we are washed in the waters of Baptism, renewed by the mark of the cross of water. Day after day, we are buoyed up by these promises.
I’ll leave you with St. Paul’s words in contemporary language. They speak to me – I hope they may also resonate with you.
“It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.” Titus 3:3-8 (The Message)
Look for daily posts from me through Lent. Let’s walk this road together.