Think about the times that you’ve seen, made, or touched ashes.
What did they look like? How did they smell?
Ashes come from burning something: A pile of wood, a piece of paper, a cigarette. But ashes aren’t the same as glowing embers, or a blazing fire. They’re not hot, not alive, not yellow-orange.
Ashes are dusty gray-black. They are dry and void of life. Ashes come after the burning.
Our ancestors in the faith used ashes as a sign of our repentance, a symbol of the uncertainty and fragility of human life. Like them, we have tasted the ashes of hopelessness; we have walked through the ashes of our loss and pain; we have stood knee-deep in the ashes of our brokenness.
But ashes also contain the memory of what was burned. At the molecular level they are the life that came before the fire, now transformed into something else. The dust is made of calcium carbonate. It contains lime and potassium. This dust fertilizes gardens, glazes pottery, and turns into soap for washing.
The ashes are both end and beginning. And it is the same with us.
Join us for Ash Wednesday worship on Wednesday, March 6th at 7:00 p.m.
A prayer for Ash Wednesday:
God of our lives, out of the dust of creation you have formed us and given us life. May these ashes not only be a sign of our repentance and death, but reminders that by your gift of grace in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, we are granted life forever with you. Amen.