Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a 40-day period when Christians prepare themselves for Easter by fasting, repentance and practicing spiritual disciplines. These 40 days of Lent represented the 40 days Jesus was in the wilderness before starting His public ministry. He spent time fasting, praying, preparing Himself and enduring the temptations of the evil one.
Ash Wednesday reminds us of 2 truths: (1) we are mortal beings and (2) we are sinful beings in need of the grace and mercy of God. We are but dust. God has formed the first human beings, Adam and his wife Eve, out of dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). After they had sinned, God said to them, “for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).
But God loves us. He sent Jesus Christ to us and died for us. By His blood shed on the Cross, we are no longer enemies with God but are reconciled to Him (Romans 5:10). Jesus had conquered death and offers us the free gift of eternal life (John 3:16).
At the Ash Wednesday service, ashes (made by burning the palm leaves from last year’s Palm Sunday), are smeared on our foreheads in the shape of a Cross to remember our mortality and as a sign of repentance. As the Cross are being drawn on our foreheads, these words were spoken, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”.
Ash Wednesday is a day for us to repent of our sins. In the 40 days of Lent to come, let us remember the sufferings and sacrifices of Jesus on the Cross for us. Lent ends with Easter Sunday, a victorious day to remember that Jesus has conquered sin and death.
Praise the Lord!