February 14, 2018 is Ash Wednesday. It’s the first day of the season of Lent. Lent is from Latin - “Lenct” - meaning “lengthening of days.” Not including Sundays, this Lenten season is for 40 days, and lasts until Easter. Since the beginning of time, ashes have been used to symbolize that we are all mortal human beings who will experience death.
Many Christian churches, including Lutheran churches, practice the application of ashes on the forehead, (typically derived from the burned palms from the previous Palm Sunday), in the sign of a cross on Ash Wednesday. This mark of the cross in ashes on our foreheads portrays that Jesus died because of our “dirty” sin, that we will return to dust upon death and that through our faith in Jesus as our savior, we will have victory over death through the cross. Wearing the sign of the cross of Jesus placed on your forehead serves as a reminder of our sinful nature and our need for the forgiveness Jesus earned for us on that cross.
The Bible explains that it is out of the dust of the ground that we were made and it is to the dust of the ground we shall return. There are multiple Biblical references to ashes and dust ( Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2,15:32; Job 2:12, 16:15; Jeremiah 25:34; Lamentations 2:10; Ezekiel 27:30; Jonah 3:6). In Genesis 3:19 the Lord curses Adam, “dust you are, and to dust you shall return." Typically, pastors echo a similar sentiment while placing the ashes on worshipers, saying "Remember: you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
Experience it yourself during Chapel at 10 a.m. this Wednesday!