The title of this blog are the words we say when applying the ash cross on the forehead of a person on Ash Wednesday. Which is today. It is a reminder of something, of which we strangely need to be reminded: We will die.
Death can seem to be surreal. We re-spawn in video games. For all the violence seen on TV, we really don’t look at death but for a moment. It has the effect of de-sensitizing us about our mortality, more than making us aware of it. Death happens in hospitals and nursing homes and behind police tape. Most of us don’t see it nearly enough.
But without a doubt, we will die. Even if we live to be very old, it will come for us faster than we ever imagined.
Remembering that we will die is important. It forces us to confront what will come next. If makes us consider what is the purpose of this brief life we live on Earth. If we don’t consider that we will die, will we really live correctly?
The Ash Wednesday ritual doesn’t just speak morbid reality at us, and put a black mark on our heads. The mark is in the shape of a cross. Ironically, a cross was originally a form of torturous capital punishment. But God used it to creatively fulfill an unbreakable law on the behalf of everyone who would be connected to Christ. Jesus was forsaken so that we would not have to be. The result is eternal life with God.
Yes. I will die. My body still has to die and is built to die. But I won’t have to be exiled from the one source of all good. More than that, my body, which will decay away, will be resurrected by the power of God. That is His promise. It is regrettable that death is a process I must endure. My sin makes this so. But Jesus Christ has created a real solution to my dilemma. Death no longer has permanent power over me. In fact, I kind of look forward to it. The best part of my existence is on the other side.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, and, yes, it is a little dark. But it is a darkness with a very bright light that is following it. With a black, ugly, ashen cross smeared on my forehead, I am remind and I proclaim that I am dust; but I am dust that will rise again.
If you are in the area and read this today, we invite you to our Ash Wednesday services. At Redeemer, Evansville, they are at noon and 6pm at 1811 Lincoln Avenue. At Redeemer, Newburgh the service will be at 6pm at 7811 Oak Grove Road, up on the hill on the south side of the road.