Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: The connection to the cross, and baptism!

Created with Microsoft Fresh PaintTomorrow I get to lead chapel at my Church School. Tomorrow is ash Wednesday and that has me thinking deeply today.  Many of the children who will be here will experience imposition of ashes.  My prayer tomorrow is that many of our students will take the time in worship to remember their sin and more importantly be reminded of the eternal life won for us on the cross, and given to us in our baptism as we are connected to the cross.

I know many people don’t like the imposition of ashes because of Jesus’ words in Matthew  6 about keeping our prayers and fasting to ourselves and not to show it off.  Jesus is obviously right, and if the goal of ashes is to show the world we are repentant or how good of a Christian we are we have failed.

The purpose of the ashes placed on us is to remind us of our sin, remind us that without Jesus we are dust and without him we will continue to be dust forever.  I love that in that moment. When we are brought to the realization of our brokenness.  The part I think is more important and often overlooked is we are given the sign of the cross.  The same sign we were given at our baptism.  That this is not our end. We are not just dust but we are God’s child.  We are the ones who are connected by baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection. You have eternal life today in Jesus and forever more.  As we spend the next 40 days in a time of reflection on our sin we must not forget these two truths.

Tomorrow as you are reminded of your sin, and the death it brings, remember the life that comes in life with Jesus.

  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 5:21-6:2

We love the new, and hate the broken.


I love new things. I love to new toys, games, tablets, computers, music and everything else in between. I also love new friendships, new people, new ideas, new everything. We all love new things.

The problem we have is, we all love new things so much, after a few months those new things get old. We love the new TV until 3 months later the new TV looks old, we love our new cell phone up until 3 months later when we drop our phone and notice the new ding on the side or crack the screen. We love our new friends and new people in our lives up until they give us a few dings, or really we start to notice the dings they have on them. They don’t look new after a short time.

Today I am thinking about relationships in my life that have been dinged. Those relationships that have seen the screen cracked or marked. Those relationships with my fellow believers in Christ that are broken and bruised. I want them to be new. I want them to go back to the way they were when I got them all new and shiny. The trouble is I am looking at it from the wrong place. You see I am trying, like many of us, to make something new myself. I a broken human being am trying to make this thing this relationship new when the only way it is new is through Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 says something amazing about our newness.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; (ESV)

Titus 3:5 also says:
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

These verses talk about how our relationship with God is made new. My relationships can be made new each and every day because I have been made new each and every day, when I remember my old self being drowned in that water of baptism every day. This week I got to see a young person in 3rd grade baptized because he heard in his Lutheran day school about what that water does. How it makes him new in Christ. How in brings to us the forgiveness of sins. He wanted to be made new.

So how about us. I am reminded each and every day of my broken, not so new self and not so new relationships. I also know that each and everyday through Christ’s continually working in me I am made new. Those relationships that are also broken because of all our sin can be made new as well. Christ’s work in me and my fellow believer gives me the greatest hope as I continue to try mend those broken relationship with those around me. May it give you that hope as well.