Saturday, February 25   “for dust you are and to dust you will return . . .”

Scripture: Genesis 3:17-19

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

Some thoughts:

Just before the passage you just read, we have these beautiful words of creation, “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” (Gen. 2:7)

Dust. Really?There is a bit of irony here. In Psalm 72:9 concerning king Solomon, we read the phrase, “The desert tribes will bow before him and his enemies will lick the dust.” This phrase from the King James Bible later became “bite the dust.” Dust is a fascinating word that is associated with loss or death, like being defeated and falling to earth, getting a mouth full of dust. Dust is nothing more than tiny particles of earth or waste matter lying on the ground that is blown by the wind. We even “dust” to get rid of dust!

In the Garden of Eden, God formed man from the dust of the earth. Talk about our humble beginning! Adam and Eve literally “bit the dust” and death entered all of humanity. As a result, these bodies of ours will in fact return to dust (to ash) again as we are reminded each Ash Wednesday, “from dust you came, to dust you will return.” For many people in the world, that’s the sad end of their story. You are born, grow up, have as many good experiences as possible and die. But wait! God did something about our “dust!” God took on human flesh; he took on our dust and became one of us. The Son of God, the Creator of dust, identified fully and completely in every way to make possible the great reversal of rebellious sons and daughters.

The good news of the gospel is that we will get a renewed body, not a “dusting up” of this old one. The new one is not subject to dust or death. Your mortal earthly body of dust, the flesh and blood that makes up you now, gets a “new” body that will never die. It will be immortal! “Just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly [dusty] man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man [Jesus] from heaven.” (I Corinthians 15:42-54) Dust cannot inherit the kingdom of God. We will all be changed in the twinkling of an eye. “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:57)

The sign of the cross made in ashes on your forehead on an Ash Wednesday proclaims that death is defeated forever.  Our “dust” will be recreated by the One who created you in the first place . . . and He does really good work! You will never bite the dust again!

Music: What Wondrous Love is This?  Concordia Choir

Prayer: Glorious God, give me grace to amend my life, and to have an eye to my end without begrudging death, which to those who die in you, good Lord, is the gate of a wealthy life.  And give me, good Lord, a humble, lowly, quiet, peaceable, patient, charitable, kind, tender and pitiful mind, in all my works and all my words and all my thoughts, to have a taste of your holy, blessed Spirit. Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with you, not to avoid the calamities of this world, nor so much to attain the joys of heaven, as simply for love of you. And give me, good Lord, your love and favor, which my love of you, however great it might be, could not deserve were it not for your great goodness. These things that I pray for, give me your grace to labor for. Amen.  –Thomas More, 1478-1535