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

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Do you feel God?

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Do you feel God is a question many students have asked this question in their lives. Students, adults, and everyone in between struggle with this issue of feeling God. It is a tough question because often is reveals how people are doing in their faith life. When we forget about who works faith in us we start to ask the question do we feel God.

Your emotions are what make us human. We cannot follow Jesus without at least thinking about our emotions. I get very frustraited with Lutherans who say emotion has no part in the life of a Christian. Chrsitians will always have emotional responses to the world around us. We will respond in worship with some emotion. Think about the last service you went to and tell me you didn’t have some response to the music, liturgy, readings or sermon. You can’t avoid emotion but you can put it in the proper context. Emotion is a gift of God but it isn’t what saves us.

So how do I feel God. I think it is the wrong question. What people are really saying is I don’t feel God do I have faith? So here is my answer. Remember your baptism. Remember in your baptism God declared you his child. In my life I have had moments of ups and downs. I have had moments of time when I struggled in my faith and wondered if it is really there. I remember a professor I had in college who reminded us all one day that when we have those moments we should remember our baptism because it is the one thing we couldn’t mess up, it was done to us. You see in baptism we don’t have to trust in our works or how much we feel Gods presence. We receive the gifts of forgiveness of sins purely by the Grace of God connected to the word. We are saved not because we feel God’s presence but because of what Christ has done for us in that moment. Remember your baptism it will help when you are going through those moments of doubt.