But God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” Genesis 3:3
And to Adam, God said…”by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  Genesis 3:19
Jesus said to her,  “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  John 11:25-26
Years ago, I saw my kids playing with their toy cars in the yard.  When I went over, I noticed they had them neatly lined up, one behind the other, like a funeral procession.  It turns out, that’s what it was (normal for preacher’s kids, right?).  They found a dead frog and were having a funeral- the striking part was when they said to me, “and we made sure to wash all the cars for the funeral.”

I never thought much about it, but they learned about washed cars from me.  I always wash my car before a funeral.  Maybe it is because if there is a procession to the cemetery, my car is near the front of the line, and maybe it is something more.  I’ve come to understand my habit of washing the car for a funeral is some small effort on my part to bring order and control to a situation that is beyond control.  Death, we see from Genesis, is a curse.  It is a curse that we don’t handle very well at all, and we’ll try everything- even cleaning the car, to bring some order to the chaos.

On Ash Wednesday, we pause to remember the curse we are under, (You are dust, and to dust you shall return), and we acknowledge our inability to overcome the curse on our own.  That’s what confession of sin is all about- looking outside ourselves for a solution to the curse we face.  On Wednesday, we’ll slow down and remember our need, calling on the Lord for mercy and grace.  He alone has the solution to the curse.  The situation may be out of our control, but it is not out of his control.  Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the curse is defeated, and we have new life in him.

In overcoming the enemy of death, all our efforts amount to nothing compared to the grace we have received from him.

By grace alone,

Pastor Daniel