What do the ashes of Ash Wednesday signify?
to a “day of ashes” liturgy as the
start of Lent can be found as early as the 8th Century. Ashes
are an ancient part of repentance rituals, as mentioned several
times in the Old Testament and practiced in other religions,
as well. They were a sign of humbling oneself before God.
ashes used in Christian liturgies traditionally are made
by burning palms saved from the previous year's Palm Sunday liturgy.
The officiant places his or her thumb in the finely ground
ashes, and then makes the sign of the cross on the worshiper's
forehead. The cross, of course, refers to Jesus. The words
used in imposing ashes are, “Remember that you are dust,
and to dust you shall return,” or some variant. Those
words refer to the creation story, when God made humanity out
ceremony has several layers of meaning. But the heart
of it is accepting
one's humanity, acknowledging God as creator,
confessing one's sins, asking God for forgiveness, and pledging
to go forward in “newness of life.”
What Are You Asking?