These are your gods--the reason for Ash Wednesday

by Pastor Pete Panitzke on February 17, 2021

Within 40 days the Israelites went from fearing the LORD who had thundered forth the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:18-20) to forsaking the LORD and making their own gods (read today's lesson Exodus 31-32).

This is the fickle heart that sinners like us have. Devoted to the LORD at one moment, forsaking him the next.

This is the reason for Ash Wednesday. During the imposition of ashes, the pastor looks you in the eye and says, “Dust you are and to dust you shall return.” The Law Giver is coming down from the mountain and all the gods that we have found comfort and security in – health, wealth, family, friends, influence, reputation – all these gods will be burned up like the golden calf and ground to nothing but powder. That day may be the last day of this earth, or the last day that we are on the earth. Everything we treasure and we are ourselves will become dust. “Dust you are and to dust you shall return.”  

Yet on this Ash Wednesday we celebrate that the Law Giver who came down on Mt. Sinai also came down on Mt. Calvary. We have forsaken him; he will not forsake us. Instead, he took our forsakenness upon himself. He was laid in the dust of death (Psalm 22:15). (Read today's lesson Matthew 27:45-66.)

This is the reason for Ash Wednesday. Let us mourn today. Mourn our fickle hearts. Mourn the times our eyes have looked at things in this life as the source of security when we are afraid. “These are your gods.” Then let us see the unchanging love of the Son for his Father and his unchanging love for us. Let us confess: The Forsaken One is our God. We shall never be forsaken. Amen.

Worship today is at 3:30 and 7:00 pm and includes the Imposition of Ashes and the Lord’s Supper in both services.

The 3:30 service will be livestreamed on our YouTube Channel.


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