Genesis 3:19-“ By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return."


February 17th marked the beginning of Lent, and at Zion and St. John, among the Scriptures that we heard is this one, part of which is often read as ashes are applied to our forehead-“You are dust, and to dust you shall return”. Very often we tend to think very highly of ourselves. Many of us were taught from childhood that we were special, unique, and important-and there’s nothing wrong with that-elsewhere in Genesis we are taught that we are made in God’s image and charged with caring for the earth God created-an important responsibility. This becomes a problem, though, when we forget that we are creatures, dependent on God for everything, every breath of air, every mouthful of food, every coin or bill in our pockets. We are human beings who tend to forget that the root of the word “human” is the same as that of the word “humus”, meaning “soil”. We were made by God out of dust-and one day, our bodies will return to that dust-and there is no more powerful and dramatic way of remembering that then to have ashes smeared on our foreheads, as this Scripture is recited. The whole Lenten season is about repentance-repentance for the ways we have misused the gifts God has given us-the ways in which we have worshiped the things God made rather than the God who made them-for example, our tendency to place our trust in money rather than in the God whose name is engraved on it, in the ironic line “in God we trust”. Lent is a time of repentance, renewal, and recovery of our relationship with our Creator-a time to deepen our understanding of the need for Christ’s sacrifice-and thereby increase our joy and celebration on Easter morning. I encourage you, this year, to give yourself Lent, however you observe it. Special services are being offered on Wednesday nights at Bethlehem and at St. John, and the traditional disciplines of fasting, prayer, and sacrifices (also known as “giving up something for Lent) are also available, that your relationship with the One who made you from dust might be strengthened and deepened, and that your celebration of Easter might be more joyful. May God’s peace be with you.

                                                                                 —Pastor Jon Anderson


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