What is Ash Wednesday?
This holiday (holy day) has been observed by Christians for over one thousand years. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the season of Lent (40 days before Easter).
Why ashes? Why a cross?
For centuries, ashes have symbolized mourning and repentance in Judeo-Christian culture. While the practice of Ash Wednesday is not necessarily biblical, ashes certainly are. (2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21) We place ashes on our foreheads in the sign of a cross as a way of remembering our mortality, our need for forgiveness, but also the love and salvation that is given to us by Christ's dying on the cross. A cross of ashes signifies both your ailment and your cure.
Why do we say "You are dust and to dust you shall return?"
These words were spoken to Adam after humans committed their first sin (Genesis 3:19). They stand as a reminder that God is God and we are not. They also remind us that our time on earth is finite. Our hope is that these words will not leave you depressed, but relieved as you remember that God is in control of your life, not you. In a nutshell: Don't take yourself too darn seriously.
Isn't this a bit morbid?
Kind of, yes. But we believe that the more we embrace our mortality and imperfection, the less we will be afraid of it. What allows us to stare death in the face without fear is the assurance Christ gives us of eternal life. Have a Blessed Lent and a Happy Easter!
Ash Wednesday Services at Messiah
February 17 at 10:00a and 6:00p
Direct link to the 10a livestream service »