Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes

March 1, 2017 / Robert Calabretta

As of now, King's Cross does not follow the liturgical calendar too strictly. However, both Norman and I wanted to share a few thoughts on this day that many will be observing around the world.

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, which is the solemn preparation for the church to move toward the reflection and consideration of Jesus Christ’s passion—especially his crucifixion and then, subsequent resurrection.

The significance of the ash on the forehead, which many “high-church” or liturgically heavy churches practice are demonstrative of the reflection on our own human brokenness. Ashes or dust are commonly poured on one’s head in the bible as a symbol of mourning. Why all the soil and detritus? It’s because of this “earthy-curse” that came from our defiance of everything that God is and loves, we are relegated to a destiny of dust.

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes.

Therefore, by placing the ashes on our foreheads, we’re identifying with the frustration and futility that our one common end will bring. Rich and poor, small and great, we all inherit the same thing in the end... dust and ashes. 

However, while the journey of Lent begins with dust and ashes, it brings us to a much fairer end, a much finer destination which we cannot miss.

The gospel of Jesus Christ tells us that upon Christ’s brow, he bore the symbol of that “earthy-curse” (Gen 3:18,)—a crown of cruel, piercing thorns while he hung on the cross. However, after rising anew, we see the arisen Lord in Revelation 19:12, which says, “and on his head are many crowns...”

Through Jesus’s triumph over shame, sin and death— he’s not simply reversed the curse, he’s greatly multiplied the inheritance we all long for. In Christ, I no longer am destined to dust and ashes as my eternal reward—but he places on my head his own reward and inheritance, it’s often referred to in the bible as “eternal life.”

Is it good to put ashes on our forehead? Sure. But only if it leads you to deeper mourn the brokenness of how the curse of sin has embittered much of which should have been sweet, and ultimately, must lead you to confess yet again, that your only hope and salvation and glory... is in Christ Jesus. 

I’ll leave you with this. The story of the God’s redemption ends with our foreheads—much like how it quickly began with shame and contempt marring the minds and thoughts of mankind. Revelation 22:4, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” What could this mean? It means that better than dust and ashes, better than even a crown—we belong to him. It’s adoption as children of God. He’s kissed his name upon our foreheads, to ever be his beloved children. Thank you Jesus for bearing that crown of thorns on your brow so that we could have blessing on ours.

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