Day 1

Ash Wednesday

from the Lent 2016 reading plan


Genesis 3:8-21, Luke 12:13-21, Ecclesiastes 12:7, 1 Corinthians 15:42-49

BY Guest Writer

Text: Genesis 3:8-21, Luke 12:13-21, Ecclesiastes 12:7, 1 Corinthians 15:42-49

Observing Ash Wednesday is not a biblical command. We are free to observe it and we are free not to. So what is it? Why have Christians around the world, for over ten centuries, attended Ash Wednesday service as a way to begin the liturgical season of Lent?

Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance. It is a day where we take a page from the Book of Job and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:6). We remember that we are mortal.

During an Ash Wednesday service, people make their way to the front of the church as a minister moves down the line holding a bowl of ashes made from the palm fronds of the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration. The minister might whisper into the worshipper’s ear as he smears ash in the shape of a cross onto the worshipper’s forehead: “Remember, mortal, that from the dust you were made, and to the dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

Some ministers put it more plainly, saying simply, “Remember that you have to die.”

Without Christ, these are hard words. With Christ, they are a reminder that, though our bodies will one day return to dust, we have the hope of the resurrection. Still, even for those in Christ, these words are a sober reminder that only Jesus’ death and resurrection could pay the wage of our sin and reconcile us to our Maker.

The ashen cross is an outward sign of both repentance and hope. It is a way to repent of our rebellion against God and “confess our sins one to another” (James 5:16). It is appropriate to enter into a season of celebrating the finished work of Christ by assuming a posture of repentance, confessing our need for a Savior.

On Ash Wednesday we admit our limits and acknowledge the brevity of this life. Whether in a formal Ash Wednesday service or privately in our homes, let’s use the first day of the Lenten season to remember that from the dust we were made and to the dust we shall return.

Russ Ramsey is one of the local pastors who serves She Reads Truth & He Reads Truth by providing theological oversight and pastoral counsel. Russ the author of Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative and Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He writes and pastors in Nashville, Tennessee. He and his wife Lisa have four amazing kids.

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Post Comments (321)

321 thoughts on "Ash Wednesday"

  1. Nicole says:

    I’m so excited to start this! Although I know we are months away from celebrating Lent, I wanted to begin here. A reminder of my humanity and how great God is could do me well. I’m currently in school and have found myself in a strange place spiritually, without a community that I could both ask difficult questions of and search for answers in Christ–it seems at my school the choices are either one or the other. I don’t care to have a faith that never grows in understanding, and I am hoping that this will be one avenue to help me continue my search in a community that can add to the conversation and tell me if I’m going way too far with my ideas. Thank you for creating this space for us to learn more and find community.

  2. Sara Beth Farrow says:

    I am super behind in posting, but I am loving this series. When I grew up, I didn’t celebrate this in the atmosphere I was in,but it’s been awesome so far for my first tine

  3. April says:

    I love that even after Adam and Eve sinned gravely against God, He still lovingly met them where they were at (and their current concerns) and clothed them. It’s a beautiful first picture of grace.

  4. Maegs says:

    I’ve never observed Ash Wednesday but I now have a clearer understanding of what it means . I’m so great-full that God chooses to make something beautiful out of the dirt and dust of this world. Because of Him I am clean!

  5. Jess Colunga says:

    Beautiful explanation of Ash Wednesday

  6. Olivia Mace says:

    I love these so much! They make me grow stronger through Christ

  7. Madi Kuehler says:

    I do go to church but lately I am struggling talking to God on a daily basis. I am confident this will get me on the track that I want to be- both a happier and more God-loving women.

    1. Brooke Sheesley says:

      Find some good Christian girl friends! Being involved in Christian community is so important! ❤️

      1. Kelly Ann says:

        Thats so true, life is hard for me that I need to be surrounded and influenced by the image of God’s people… I feel so blessed

      2. Kelly Ann says:

        Thanks for this scripture, I believe God is really helping me to repent from all my sins, he is constantly helping me find these good inspirations for enthusiasm.. And i know its because i have never really repented before..

  8. Kirsika says:

    ”Always look at the cross”, that is what one of my good friends once told me. Why should we do that? Because everything points back to the cross. God deserves all the honor, through what He did by sending his son to die on the cross, to make us clean from our sins. We did not deserve it, but he did it anyway, because He loves us.

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