Ash Wednesday Service
Ash Wednesday falls on the first day of Lent, a time of introspection and repentance prior to Easter. Once perceived as Roman Catholic, over the past 30 years or so, Presbyterians have begun to recover Ash Wednesday as part of the worship life of the Church. What has made congregations more accepting of Ash Wednesday rituals has been a broader reassessing of the liturgical traditions and teaching related to Holy Week and to the preceding weeks of Lent. The 40 days of Lent mirrors Jesus’ 40 days of prayer and temptation in the desert before he was crucified. To some, Lent means “giving something up”, but as Presbyterians, we use this period to commit ourselves to doing something that will deepen our faith during Lent, perhaps a special daily devotion or committing ourselves to an outreach activity.
During the service as the ashes are imposed, marked in the sign of a cross on the forehead, this phrase is often used: “From dust you come and to dust you shall return.” Death is a part of life, we are finite. We do not live forever, so the choices we make and the things we do are important because we are here for a only a short time. Mortality isn’t the last word when we belong to Christ. The good news is that GOD HAS THE LAST WORD.