For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. That’s you. It will be you. You will be dust and ashes someday. You’ll die. You’ll decay. You’ll be bones. A skeleton buried in the ground. Then, not even that—instead, a pile of dust and ashes in a coffin.
It’s your life, too. Are you willing to confess that? With the nasty parts of our life, sure. It’s easy to say that our sins are dust and ashes. The skeletons that rattle around in the closet of our consciences. The memories of deep dark sins, the secret sins, the evil thoughts no one knows, the angry words maybe only a few know, the icky deeds only you know. But “your Father sees in secret.” No cleared internet history, no part of your past or present is hidden from Him. He sees all: actions, words, even thoughts! The wages of your sins is death, dust, and ashes.
Dust, ashes really is your life. Are you willing to confess that? What treasure will you hold on to? Are you willing to say that even your best is smeared and dirtied with the dirt, dust, and ashes of sin? What treasure of your righteousness will you hang on to? What good work? Which kind word? What good thoughts and vibes? What sorrow over sin will you parade out? What prayer? What good deed? What will you use to whitewash your sins away? What nice thing have you done that’s nicer than what those around have done? Reality check: “All our righteousness is like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
We need true and real repentance, real ashes and sackcloth. So, Jesus gives that to you: He deaths you, dusts you, ashes you. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) He becomes smeared with your sins, He goes into the dust of the ground. He who knew no sin becomes your sin. He was crucified for your worst. He died for your best. He takes all that is yours and gives you all that is His so that you would be no longer death, dust, and ashes but the very righteousness of God.
Yes, there will be ashes to ashes and dust to dust, but in Christ Jesus, it’s in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. It has to be;.your Baptism says so. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and contrite hearts that, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, we may receive from You full pardon and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Ash Wednesday)