What is Ash Wednesday about?
Ash Wednesday, observed today, is a day of penance marking the beginning of Lent for Western Churches like Roman Catholic, Anglican (Episcopal) and even some Protestant churches. Churches that observe Ash Wednesday hold special services where their foreheads are marked with palm ash as a symbol of death and sorrow over sin. It is a sign of mortality, “an outward sign of inner spirituality”. As the ash is applied to the forehead the worshipper recites one of two phrases: “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” or the more modern phrase “turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”
The Seattle Times has an article this morning on this tradition and the how and where of palm ash . http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003581538_ashes21.html
Perhaps for those of us whose religious tradition does not include an Ash Wednesday observance there ought to be a time when we give some thought to the reality of sin in our lives and the wonderful story of the gospel that sets us free. Not a guilt induced view but a realistic check of our hearts that causes us to realize that indeed we do fall short of the standard set by the Father but also realize that indeed there is Good News that sets us free to live each day as a dearly loved, fully accepted child of the Father.
While I don’t intend to put palm ash on my forehead today, I am going to spend the day reflecting on how great the knowledge is that I can and have “turned away from sin” and am attempting to live each day “faithful to the gospel”. Care to join me?