Lent Devotion for March 1
Reader: “Hear how the troubles all began.”
Response: “We are the problem, and no part of the solution.”
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 3:13-19
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman,
"What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent,
"Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel."
16 To the woman he said,
"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you."
17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'
"Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of 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."
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 27:45-50
45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
47 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 48 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”
50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
In the Garden of Eden, God formed man from the dust of the earth. Did you notice where else the word “dust” appeared in the Genesis passage? The serpent is condemned to groveling “in the dust as long as you live.” Think about it. The serpent never rises above the dust. Humans are raised from the dust into beings fashioned after the image of God into which God breathes the breath of life and man becomes a living soul. Though in the dust, the serpent creates havoc bringing death to all of mankind. As a result, this body of ours will, in fact, return to dust (to ash) again. Humankind is dragged into the dust. Have you noticed that the above passage of Scripture is the very same one we chose for the first day of the Advent devotional, Before the After? You and I have two days that are like no other, the day we were born and the day we die. You see, the Nativity is one of the two days in Jesus’ life that was never to be repeated. God took on human flesh, combining the dust of the earth with the eternal glory of heaven. In the Incarnation of Christ, the human “dust of earth” wed the eternal Word. Two worlds, earth and heaven, were united in the Son of God. His death on the cross was that second day, never to be repeated. In Jesus’ death, He mortally crushed the serpent’s head meaning the dust of evil was utterly, eternally defeated. The human dust of the earth took on immortality. When Jesus released His spirit (Mt.27:50), the grave did not capture His dust, nor will it ultimately hold our dust as we receive resurrection bodies which will never turn to dust!
You see, while Ash Wednesday reminds us of our mortality, in also proclaims the way has been cleared and we are forgiven. Our second unrepeatable day, at the same time, becomes our first eternal day in glory. In heaven, there is no second unrepeatable day! Hallelujah to the Savior!
MUSIC: “All We Like Sheep” from Messiah
As you listen to this piece, notice the joy and delight of the first part, almost like the delight in going astray. Also, notice that the ends of the musical phrases kind of “fade away.” Then as the piece nears the end, there is the solemn and heavy reality of what we have done as the Lord bears the weight of our sin. Sin is never without heavy consequence as poignantly reflected in this music.
(We’ll see you at the 6:30 pm Ash Wednesday service tonight!)
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against thee
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved thee with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we earnestly repent.
For the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in thy will,
and walk in thy ways,
to the glory of thy Name. Amen.
-from Book of Common Prayer, 1928