Greetings in Christ,
"Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return." as those words ring in our ears, we will receive a smear of ash on our foreheads. It is an ancient word, as old as the human race itself, for God created us out of the dust of the earth and when life ends, we return to that dust. The vast majority of those who have lived are now dust. The great and mighty of the past are dust. The unknown and forgotten are dust. It is the universal truth of human existence that all must share and none may avoid. We are made of dust and to that dust we will one day return.
It is not an easy word to hear. We would prefer to hear some other word, a word that assures us that we some how will be the exception, that our flesh will never suffer this fate, we will escape. Our culture flings itself into all manner of pleasures, pursuits and pass-times to distract our thoughts from this truth. Far too many in our culture dull their senses with drugs, legal and illegal, in an attempt to numb the mind and not hear these words. Yet not one of these things can change a single word of that sentence. We are made of dust and to dust we all will one day return.
It is a thought that could fill our souls with despair and hopelessness. It is a thought that we all consider, some more than others, but one we all have pondered. What is life for us if its only purpose is to live a few short years and then return to the anonymity of the dust? What hope can be offered in the face of such a stark reality?
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.." John 1.14 God has entered our dust. In Jesus, the Eternal God has become one of us, become the living dust with us, confronts death itself and in His rising from the grave gives life to all who believe. We certainly are dust. We shall return to the dust one day, but in Christ we will not remain forgotten dust. In His rising is our rising from the dust. We then will never return to the dust again. We will be with God the Father for all eternity.
Our Lenten journey begins with a smear of ash and the reminder that we are dust. It ends with the promise that as Christ is raised from the dead, so shall we be raised.