Ash Wednesday

What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It is filled with symbolism, history, and significance for much of the Christian population.

It takes place on a Wednesday, 46 days before Easter.

Lent is the 40 days prior to Holy Week, the week leading up to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

Ash Wednesday dates back to the ancient Jewish customs of fasting and clothing oneself in sackcloth and ashes in grief and repentance. Today Lent is a time of prayerful contemplation and preparation for the suffering and death of Jesus. The ashes are symbolic of the dust from which God created humans; the sign of the cross on the forehead symbolizes the manner of Christ’s death and his sacrifice for us. It is ultimately a sign of the life to death to life again cycle that marks us as Christ’s own forever. “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Ashes also symbolize grief. On this day, we grieve the suffering we have caused and the suffering we ourselves have borne.

From the Book of Common Prayer comes this Ash Wednesday prayer:
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence that we may remember that is is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

May your Ash Wednesday be a soulful beginning to a holy Lent.

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