This season of the Christian calendar is when the followers of Jesus are invited to confess their mortality and their complete dependence on God’s provision. What began with Advent, the season of longing and waiting for our promised Messiah, continued with the celebration of his birth at Christmas, now unfolds as a time of deep preparation for Easter morning and the celebration of knowing that all who have died in Christ will be raised to new life with him.
During Lent, we remember that the mission of deliverance on which Jesus came led him to a path of suffering. Likewise, we who would follow him must deny ourselves, identifying with him as we take up our cross daily, and walk in humble repentance with our eyes fixed on the hope of resurrection (for Easter is coming). (Luke 9:23) This is the call of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday’s sobering reminder that “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Eccl. 3:20)
Ash Wednesday is the name given to the first day of the church season of Lent in which Christians are invited to receive ashes on their foreheads to signify inner repentance and the death that is brought to us by sin.
The ashes are a symbol and a reminder of the truth of one’s sin and Christ’s great sacrifice. The ashes are a reminder of the truth that you are nothing but dust apart from the animating breath of God in you (Genesis 2:7).
Ashes are not mystical in any way, nor are they a sign of your piety to the world. They are not even the central part of a true Ash Wednesday service. Riverside does not currently host an Ash Wednesday service. If you are interested in attending an Ash Wednesday service we recommend Rio Vista Community church. Click here for more info.