Today is Ash Wednesday. While we will be sharing the ashes this evening at a special worship service, many would like to be reminded throughout the day. As a personal witness during the day until you come to worship I invite you to take a marker and place a cross on your hand so that you are reminded throughout the day of your need for repentance. I will be placing a small cross between my thumb and index finger. I invite you to do the same.
According to umc.org:
“Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.
Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: our sinfulness before God and our human mortality. The service focuses on both themes, helping us to realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship. Historically, ashes signified purification and sorrow for sins.
It is traditional to save the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday service to burn to produce ashes for this service. Sometimes a small card or piece of paper is distributed on which each person writes a sin or hurtful or unjust characteristic. The cards are then brought to the altar to be burned with the palm branches. The ash cross on the forehead is an outward sign of our sorrow and repentance for sins.”
The name comes from “Dies Cinerum” in the Roman Missal and is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary. The concept originated in Rome sometime in the 6th century. Though the exact origin of the day is not clear, the custom of marking the head with ashes on this Day is said to have originated during the papacy of Gregory the Great (590-604).
Tonight at 7pm, we will gather at Flowing Grace United Methodist Church to share in the beginning of our Lenten journey. Please come and reflect on your life, your faith and what God has made you to be. We will present a very special Lenten challenge for all of us, the palms we blessed on Sunday have been burned and will be used to mark our heads with the sign of the cross and we will pray for one another. Please join us.