In a couple of days, many pastors and priests will stand at the altar holding up a grey thumb, like hitchhikers waiting to ride shotgun with Jesus. It’s Ash Wednesday, A sea of smudged foreheads. Kids smearing black all over themselves, mom and dad, and the back of the pew. All in all, it’s the dirtiest day in the church year.
A number of years ago I compiled the following quotes from Scripture, the early church fathers, Luther, and others that address how various Old Testament narratives foreshadowed the gifts that our Father gives us in baptism. May they enrich your understanding, as they did mine, of how the Lord has always used water and his word to bless his people.