Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I invite you to attend the RCA Ash Wednesday Service on February 10, at the Carson UMC. This special service will be a kid friendly service with centers and activities for all ages together. You will be able to move around the centers as you like between 6:30 pm and 8:00 pm. This is a “come and go” service. It will take approximately 45 minutes to go through the centers.
One of the centers will be the imposition of the ashes. The ashes you will receive in the form of a cross on your forehead remind us who we are. The Bible tells us we came from dust and to dust we shall return. Adam was formed out of the dust of the earth by God and then God breathed life into that dust. That is a powerful image, one that is to remind us that without the breath or Spirit of God moving in us, we are just like the lifeless ashes.
The ashes are also a sign of repentance. Lent is a time of mourning our sins. It is a time when we are called to repent and change our ways. In Bible times, it was common for people who were mourning to dress in sackcloth and put ashes on their heads.
The cross of ashes is a reminder that we belong to Jesus. Jesus died that we might live. It is also significant that the ashes come from the burning of palm branches used on Palm Sunday. The palms are a sign of victory. We are reminded of the events of Holy Week and how the victory of Jesus over sin was won for us.
*The early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty-day season of spiritual preparation. During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church. In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.
(* Taken from The United Methodist Book of Worship)
May it be so for us all.