The fifth chapter of Romans articulates the great reversal we make conditional by claiming it cannot be fully accomplished without our assistance. If Adam’s sin did me in and I had anything to do with it why does Jesus need my help to undo what Adam did? Some would say that Jesus only covers Adam’s deed (original sin) and therefore I am responsible for what I’ve added to the mix. But if I was flawed from the get go I didn’t stand a chance in h-e-double hockey sticks to get it right, and even less of a chance without the benefit of being born to Christian parents in a Christian country in an age when not being Christian was less of an option than it is today. If you hold onto a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the password to paradise you must accept that the vast majority of humanity that has ever lived suffers eternally in hellish torment beyond what even the most demented human mind can devise. But if “the free gift is not like the trespass” surely we can trust that in the end Christ is more effective than Adam. So is there no consequence for sin? Of course there is and we live it every day in things done and left undone, in things said and left unsaid. Judgment does not wait for a future day but is present in every word, thought and deed that diminishes the life of love, the life the Creator intended for us. The final future belongs to God and if the cross is any indication I’m betting God will be more merciful than you or I. And so we wear ashes today to be reminded that we share Adam’s beginning and his end. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” But we gather at the table, “this is my body given for you, this is my blood shed for you” to be reminded that we are joined to Christ who has no beginning or end. “The free gift is not like the trespass” or in other words grace trumps judgment.