March 8

”From dust you came, to dust you will return.”

Genesis 3: 13-19  

 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
      The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

 14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
       “Cursed are you above all the livestock
       and all the wild animals!
       You will crawl on your belly
       and you will eat dust
       all the days of your life.

 15 And I will put enmity
       between you and the woman,
       and between your offspring and hers;
       he will crush your head,
       and you will strike his heel.”

 16 To the woman he said,
       “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
       with pain you will give birth to children.
       Your desire will be for your husband,
       and he will rule over you.”

 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
       “Cursed is the ground because of you;
       through painful toil you will eat of it
       all the days of your life.

 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
       and you will eat the plants of the field.

 19 By the sweat of your brow
       you will eat your food
       until you return to the ground,
       since from it you were taken;
       for dust you are
       and to dust you will return.”

           Reader: This is the word of the Lord.   Response: Thanks be to God.  

Some thoughts:

We spoke earlier of sackcloth. Another sign of penitence and humility was expressed with ashes. In the Garden of Eden, God formed man from the dust of the earth. With our rebellion against God, we sealed our doom and broke communion with our Creator. As a result, this body of ours will in fact return to dust (to ash) again. That is why we speak those words in the Ash Wednesday service, “from dust you came, to dust you will return.” The glory is that we will get a new body, not a “remake” of this old one. The new one is not subject to death.  Stop a moment and take a look at your hands, your arms. When you are at home, look at yourself in the mirror for 30 seconds. As you look at hands and face, remind yourself that God has redeemed what you see and that it will exist for all eternity. Your hands, your face. . .you will never die. You will exist forever and that existence is underway now. Everything you see will go to dust only to be made new by the One who made this mortal model of you! You were sown into the earth in an earthly (dust) body and you will be raised in a heavenly (immortal fleshly) body, one like Jesus has. The sign of the cross made in ashes a few days ago proclaims that death is defeated forever and that this mortal body will put on immortality.  Put a little jar of ashes on your bathroom counter during this season to remind you every morning and evening that you are now in the process of living forever because of Jesus’ victory over death, sin, and the powers of evil. Take care of your body while you are here. God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are indwelling you.

Music:   “What Wondrous Love”  Robert Shaw Festival Singers   

Prayer: Gracious God, out of your love and mercy you breathed into dust the breath of life, creating us to serve you and our neighbors. In this season of repentance, restore to us the joy of our salvation and strengthen us to face our mortality, that we may reach with confidence for your mercy, in Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. -The Worship Sourcebook