Ash Wednesday - The beginning of Lent
Prayer & Worship: February 2023
Ash Wednesday is a holy day that signifies the beginning of Lent. It marks the entry into a season of spiritual preparation for Holy Week, which culminates in Easter. Any march toward the redeeming work of Christ must begin with a recognition of our need for his grace — and that reminder is Ash Wednesday. The day affirms that we are dust, as ashes are literally spread in a cross on our foreheads. The cross represents Jesus and how he has redeemed us. We are encouraged to seek repentance with humble hearts and prepare for his gift.
While Ash Wednesday isn't mentioned in the Bible, Scripture does testify to the practice of repenting in dust and ashes. The ashes for Ash Wednesday are typically provided by burning the palms from Palm Sunday of the year prior. Christians in the early church were sprinkled with ashes during Lent; however, it wasn't until the Middle Ages that the church began the Ash Wednesday practice of marking foreheads, whilst reciting the words "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return" (Genesis 3:19). "Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ".
Bible Verses for Ash Wednesday
- Daniel 9:3 "So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes."
- Job 42:5-6 "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."
- Mark 1:15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!"
Merciful God, you called us forth from the dust of the earth; you claimed us for Christ in the waters of baptism. Look upon us as we enter these Forty Days bearing the mark of ashes and bless the journey through the desert of Lent to the font of rebirth. As we remember our mortality and seek penitence today, we know you to be a God who is rich in forgiveness and abounding in steadfast love, love that culminates in eternal life with you. Guide our steps this Lent, so that we might find greater fulfilment in your promises and better serve others with a heart that's reflective of you. Amen.
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