Sacred Ashes

by Jonathon McClellan

As Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, many spectacular events were unfolding at once. The fulfillment of a prophecy, the celebration of Christ’s arrival, and the bowing of many palm branches by the people who waved them. For a God who is very much working in the world, we marvel at the expertise by which God makes all things work together. Today, we burn palm branches into ashes and mix them with oil, and as an outward sign of our spiritual journeys, we use the mixture to paint crosses on our foreheads.

Nothing is sacred without sacrifice, for we are setting ourselves apart from the world for God’s purpose. Our fasts may come in various forms: the giving up of bread, an addiction, or time. But Lent is more than any diet; it is turning from one thing in order to better move towards another thing. We will be tempted by numerous voices to return to the comforts of the world, but we are casting aside worldly pleasures for godly treasures. And in doing so, we seek a closer relationship with God.

The ashes remind us of life’s impermanence. From dust, we came, and to dust, we shall return. Knowing that we will one day leave behind all Earthly possessions, we toss them aside for something permanent. And the promises of God endure forever. From everlasting to everlasting, we shall live. With quiet reflection and holy devotion, our eyes are fixed on a risen Jesus who brings with Him our salvation. We are free from the wages of sin and death. Though our bodies will one day return to dust, our spirits have been sealed for the Day of God’s glory; and we also… shall be glorified.


Holy One,

As we begin our spiritual journeys, guide our hearts, protect our minds, and nurse us with milk from heaven. We come to You in humility as the dust petitioning You to purify us. By confessing our sins to You, we ask Your forgiveness and grant us the grace to forgive ourselves. In this sacred hour, bury the desires of our flesh and grow the desires of our spirits. Bless You, Lord, for the world rejected You, and yet, You still chose us. As we draw near to You, draw near to us.


Jonathon McClellan is an award-winning author who often writes devotionals for the Cathedral of Hope. In March of 2022, he will release Messages of Hope for adults and The Ant’s Palace for children, each the first of a series empowering adults to keep hoping and encouraging children to look beneath the surface to find true riches. Part of the proceeds is going to help Cathedral of Hope programs for the homeless. Learn more

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