Ash Wednesday – Imposition of Ashes
Ash Wednesday is a day when Christians around the world come together to prepare their hearts for the season of Lent. You are invited to join us in the evening for a special Ash Wednesday service at 7:00 PM. During this service we will worship together, hear a brief devotional, and practice the imposition of ashes. For those who are unfamiliar with Ash Wednesday and the “imposition of ashes” here are some helps:
Ash Wednesday is the Wednesday of the seventh week before Easter and the first day of Lent. The day is named for the practice of imposing ashes, a practice which many congregations have found to be a very meaningful part of the Ash Wednesday liturgy.
Using ashes as a sign of repentance is an ancient practice, often mentioned in the Bible (e.g., Jonah 3:5-9; Job 42:6; Jeremiah 6:26; Matthew 11:21). The early Christians adopted the use of ashes from Jewish practice as an external mark of penitence.
Ashes symbolize several aspects of our human existence:
– Ashes remind us of God’s condemnation of sin, as God said to Adam, “Dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
– Ashes suggest cleansing and renewal. They were used anciently in the absence of soap. On Ash Wednesday ashes are a penitential substitute for water as a reminder of our baptism.
– Ashes remind us of the shortness of human life, for it is said as we are buried: “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
– Ashes are a symbol of our need to repent, confess our sins, and return to God.
(adapted from www.elca.org)