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“For dust you are and to dust you will return.” Simple. Yet profound. The Pastor made the sign of the cross with ashes on my forehead. Tears flowed unceasing. Mourning. An appropriate response to being acutely aware of my sin. A reminder from Genesis 3:19 of my mortality.

I didn’t grow up in church and I’m from the South. Ash Wednesday was foreign to me. And yet as I left the service last night, I felt more clean than I’d ever felt in my Christian  walk. There was something about the tears shed not only for my sin, but the body of Christ coming together and collectively repenting in such a way that truly acknowledges the cost of the cross. Powerful experience is an understatement.

It’s a new day today. I’m doing all the routine things I normally do in the morning: making breakfast, drinking coffee, getting ready for work, praying, and yet something is different. I’m approaching the Lent season in a new way. It’s really not about me anymore. Life isn’t and death isn’t. It’s about Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite verses is from the book of Isaiah, chapter 61, verse 3: “He will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

As one who is used to wearing crimson garments, this verse gives me hope and peace. It also reminds me that I am of ashes and God is the one doing the work not only of breathing life into my lungs, but forgiving the sin that separates me from him eternally.

May you remember the ashes,