Ash Wednesday is a meaningful day in the life of Christians everywhere. This day which starts the season of Lent is well-receive by those who participate. There are few things that people are more involved in when it comes to living out Christian faith compared to past generations. One such thing is Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday is becoming more popular, partially because it connects a very mysterious ancient ritual in the midst of today’s world. While Ash Wednesday has been commemorated for over a thousand years, it is only recently that Christian groups have discovered its meaning beyond, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian, and Lutheran. I certainly experienced this last week. I reflect on my day.
We began in Preschool, with the children learning that we are created out of the same stuff as other parts of creation. We are brought alive by God breathing his Spirit into us. Experiencing the imposition of ashes was quite natural for this age who are used to dust and dirt and learning God formed us like they make Play-Doh figures!
Then, we had Ash Wednesday worship at Prime Time. I placed ashes on some foreheads that I have memorized over decades. As we get older, the words, “…and to dust you shall return” take on greater and greater significance. Also, ashes for our granddaughter Kaylee, and ashes for the first time in a week of firsts for newly baptized Elise.
Next, ashes for those friends who couldn’t be at worship due to illness or hospitalization. Significant to know we are never alone in the Christian community.
Then it was on to my weekly Bible study at the Better Living halfway house for the recently homeless. I taught on Ash Wednesday and this became very meaningful to some of my friends there who had never experienced the ashes before. Even though they are not unfamiliar with dust and dirt, the ash cross takes on a new significance remembering God brings new life out of the ashes.
Worship again at LIFEhouse in the evening as we prayed for our friends who were having surgery or recovering. A reminder for all of our dependence on God.
Finally, closing the day at the hospital once again, a brief Ash Wednesday observance for several LIFEhouse folks who weren’t able to make the service as they were keeping vigil during our friend’s surgery at Holy Cross. The chaplain graciously let us close the evening in the chapel.
Lent is here and the significance of Ash Wednesday is not lost on us as we remember, reexamine, and renew our dependence on Jesus and his gift of himself.