written by Rev. Mary Bowman
The church has set aside a season of preparation to encourage God’s people to reflect on the significance of Lent and to prepare for Holy Week. The season of Lent invites God’s people to intentionally carve out more space to draw nearer to God and to reflect on Jesus’ commitment to care for his people and to turn his face to Jerusalem and the cross. The season of Lent allows us to journey with Jesus through his ministry and his suffering. We do this by adding or expanding our times of prayer, Bible reading, fasting, or other spiritual practices.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent and includes the centuries-old tradition of marking Jesus’ followers with a cross of ash on their forehead. This ash cross is a mark of our identity and belonging to God and of our companionship with Jesus on his journey to the cross. The words spoken over us as the cross is made on our forehead remind us that in all things, we belong to God: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. In life and in death, you belong to God.” Wherever life may take us, we are reminded that God is always with us and has also endured suffering, even to death, on our behalf.
It is powerful to act out and remember the story of Jesus’ journey to the cross. Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent encourage us to make time to take seriously and to fully appreciate the gifts that God has given us, culminating in resurrection on Easter.
This year’s Ash Wednesday service will take place at First United Presbyterian Church – just a few blocks from our church – at 12 p.m. The Reverend Pen Peery will preach. Ashes to go will be available at the CDC and Weekday School drop-off locations at 8:15 a.m., and on the Square (corner of Trade and Tryon) at 12 p.m.