On Ash Wednesday we begin our forty-day journey toward Easter with a day of fasting and repentance. Marking our foreheads with dust, we acknowledge that we die and return to the earth. At the same time, the dust traces the life-giving cross indelibly marked on our foreheads at baptism. While we journey through Lent to return to God, we have already been reconciled to God through Christ. We humbly pray for God to make our hearts clean while we rejoice that “now is the day of salvation.” Returning to our baptismal call, we more intentionally bear the fruits of mercy and justice in the world.
The Purpose of Ash Wednesday
“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Ash Wednesday is a solemn day of prayer that begins the season of Lent. On this day we confess our sin in a litany of repentance. During Lent’s forty days we are invited to carry out the Lenten discipline, practices of fasting, prayer, and works of love, even as we accompany people around the world who are preparing for baptism at Easter. On this day we may receive the sign of ashes. This ancient symbol of repentance reminds us of our mortality. Returning to God’s mercy and grace, marked with the cross of Christ, we make our way through Lent, longing for the baptismal waters of Easter, our spiritual rebirth” (Evangelism Lutheran Worship, p. 248).
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