Wednesday, February 22, 6 PM, Sanctuary
This service can be a meaningful way to begin Lent for the believer. Scripture has several references to the use of ashes. For example, in Job 42:5-6 Job is repenting before the Lord after listening to God’s discourse. Job says, “My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I repent in dust and ashes.”
After Job’s encounter with God he sees himself for who he truly is and his response to God is one of repentance. Ash Wednesday gives us the opportunity to deeply look at our hearts and lives to see the sin inside us. We get the chance to remember God for who He is, and then we have the opportunity to respond by taking ashes upon us in repentance and submission. There is no “magic” in this act, only a symbolic reminder that we are all flawed and that we will all face the Lord one day.
When the ministers place ashes on the forehead or palm these words are spoken, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Hearing this phrase is a poignant reminder to us that we are all mortal and one day we will die. The ashes are intentionally put on in the shape of a cross because, as Laurence Hull Stookey writes in his book, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, “Ashes, the
sign of death are put on the forehead not in some random pattern but in the shape of a cross. This alters the starkness of the message, which thus becomes: ‘You will die. You cannot change that. But you can die in Christ, whose death transforms your own demise. Meanwhile, live in Christ and discover Christ’s new life, which conquers death.’”
The theme of personal repentance before God and the reminder to live in Christ are essential to the Christian’s spiritual growth. Come take part in the Ash Wednesday service this year and open your doorway into the 40-day journey of Lent. Try it and allow the Lord to deal with you in a personal way.