Ashes to Ashes

 

From the introduction in our church bulletin at the Ash Wednesday service this week:

The first day of Lent has been called “Ash Wednesday” since the beginning of its observance in the seventh century.  The name refers to the practice of placing ashes on the forehead as a sign of sorrow and repentance. 

The sign of the cross is made with the ashes, along with the recitation of the words, “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).  Those words are part of the curse given to Adam and Eve following their fall into sin and keep us mindful of our mortality, sin, and need for a Savior. 

The placing of the ashes on my forehead is a seemingly simple outward action that causes a sometimes surprisingly deep reaction within me.  Along with the words, “Dust you are and to dust you will return.” they are a tangible reminder of my own mortality and my sin which condemns me to hell.

It is important for me to understand what a “poor miserabale sinner”  I am because in order to truly want and value the salvation Christ gives, I must first be aware that I am a sinful human being who needs saving.

The ashes on Ash Wednesday are a visual reminder of that sin and, therefore, that need.

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