Reflections: Ash Wednesday

February 22, 2023


Today’s Reading: Matt. 6:1-6, 16-21

Daily Lectionary: Job 16:1-22, John 7:1-13


And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matt. 6:4)


In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” [Genesis 3:19] This is a spiritual truth, which we need as Christians living out of our faith. Without this reminder, our “practice” of Christianity can become like so many other world religions. It can become a matter of what we’re doing or not doing. I’m a Christian, so I pray. I’m a Christian, so I don’t watch lewd movies. But our life before God is not simply a matter of what we do.


Charity, prayer, and fasting are spiritual disciplines. No matter how they may seem like sanctified works, we can never bring ourselves closer to God by them. The Lord comes first to us, as He has from the beginning. He breathes into our dust the breath of life so that we live (Genesis 2:7) The Holy Spirit breathes eternal life into us by the Gospel (John 20:22-23). If it were not for this, we would not exist and not have faith. It’s only with these gifts to us that we can even think about everything that belongs to the daily walk of a Christian.


In Psalm 103, we’re taught, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (vv. 13-14). Even though you are of the dust, you have a God who is your heavenly Father.


Charity, prayer, and fasting are all the lived experiences of such children. You put your offering in the plate at church for the ministry of the Gospel, and you are generous toward people in need because you know your Father’s generosity. You pray because the Ruler of All has opened His door and promised to answer. You fast because it reminds you of your dust, especially at times when your Father is chastising you with hard times.


Your life as a child of God is so much more than what you do. It’s who you are in your Baptism. According to your natural birth, you are dust bound to return to the earth. But in Jesus Christ, you are bound to be raised on the Last Day (see 1 Corinthians 15:49).


So take heart this Ash Wednesday, and gladly receive the ashen cross on your forehead. Even though you are dust, your Father has shown compassion to you, and when everything else has passed away, He has made you His forever. 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 lament our sins and acknowledge our wretchedness that 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.


-Pastor Michael A. Miller is Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR.,

Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.