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      Feasts of the Season Winter 2018
                                  Why Ashes on Ash Wednesday?
         Why does the priest, deacon, or other minister make the sign of the cross on our foreheads with a smudge of ashes on the first day of Lent? Since ancient times, ashes have been a symbol of sorrow. After burning wood in a fireplace, the householder is left with ashes that need to be cleaned up. Having ashes on our foreheads is a sign that we are feeling the sorrow and guilt of sin and that we need to set about the work of cleaning up and ridding ourselves of the burden and sorrow of sin.
Lent is a time to prepare for Easter, and we prepare best by feeling sorry for our sins and turning away from them. We resolve to sin no more and to be ready to celebrate the new life of Easter as new persons.
Ashes are also a symbol of our own mortality. When Adam and Eve disobey, God tells them they will have a life of toil and su ering. God also tells them they will die: “...you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). During Lent, we are asked to recall that death is our destiny and that Lent is the time to prepare for the new Easter life that Jesus brings.
The ashes we receive on Ash Wednesday are made by burning the blessed palm branches left over from last year’s Palm Sunday procession. As you receive ashes, listen for the minister to say, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15) or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (based on Genesis 3:19).
        A Service of
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