Our church season of Lent will begin this year on February 17 when we mark Ash Wednesday. In the Bible, people put ashes on their heads to convey distress or deep grief. As Christians, we do it on the first day of Lent to lament what we can’t control: that sin still has a deep hold on us, and that one day, we will die. In naming these hard truths, we make room for God to step into our lives, and to make a way in the wilderness. The words spoken at the imposition of ashes are simple, but they name the truth about our mortality: “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Ash Wednesday carries with it a tone of sadness and repentance. There are people who dislike Ash Wednesday because they see it as a heavy day. This year–when for the past year we’ve been surrounded by reminders of our mortality on a daily basis, when we’ve given things up repeatedly, and prayed constantly–it may feel like we never left Lent last year, so why do we need Ash Wednesday again. However, Ash Wednesday gives us the opportunity to face that reality and truth. We have the opportunity to face our communal reality as fallen creatures of God. God already knows this reality. God loves us through this reality. God holds us in and through this reality. We are reminded of this promise in the service of Ash Wednesday.
I invite you to join us on February 17 at 7pm for the Ash Wednesday service, whether in person or online. There will be the opportunity for the imposition of ashes for those who want it. (This year, the cross will be marked on your hand with a q-tip. If you would like to partake in the imposition of ashes but don’t feel comfortable being in person for the service, there is an opportunity for “ashes to go” at 1pm on the 17th.)
I invite you to join us the rest of the Wednesdays throughout Lent for our services as we take a look at the Hebrew Scriptures and the promises God makes there to people like Noah, Abram and Sarai–and to us and how those promises shape us and the God who make them. Watch the bulletin and the Facebook group for more information on opportunities to engage with scripture and one another throughout the season of Lent.
Pastor Megan Graves, February 2021