Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. From dust we have come, to dust we will return. This simple phrase from the Ash Wednesday service is a stark reminder of the duality of our creation in the image of God and our brokenness that is righted only in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the Ancient Near East, the area around Israel during the Old Testament, grief, sorrow, and contrition was displayed visibly were through the wearing of sackcloth and ashes, fasting, and crying out loudly in the streets. In the book of Esther, chapter 4, when Mordecai learns that the Jews are to be slaughtered, he “tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly” (4:1). Daniel says that when he realized how long his people would be in exile, “I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes” (Dan 9:3). In public confession of their sins, Nehemiah writes, “On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads” (9:1).
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. From dust we have come, to dust we will return.
The purpose of the Lenten season is the preparation of the believer for the coming celebration of Easter through prayer, repentance of sins, good works, atonement, and self-denial. Many choose to give up a favorite food, beverage, or activity for the period of Lent as a reminder of the season. Some choose to take on a new spiritual discipline. Others do nothing outward, but turn their hearts toward reflection, personal contrition, and repentance. At BelPres, we have opportunities to engage with Jesus in a reflective way through the Ash Wednesday service (February 18), Worship and Prayer Night (March 6), Immerse Saturday (March 7),and of course Holy Week services (Palm Sunday March 29, Maundy Thursday April 2, Good Friday April 3, and Easter April 5).
However you choose to celebrate Lent, let it be a time that you find yourself putting down roots in God’s Kingdom, recognize the divine image that God placed in you at the time of Creation, and your brokenness that needs Jesus’ body and blood in order to be put right.