Why ashes?

Today is Ash Wednesday. You are invited to Epiphany Lutheran Church at 5:30 pm for our meal of pulled pork sandwiches, salads and desserts. But more importantly, make time to begin this Lent with a solemn evening of worship at 6:30 pm. We will express our sorrow over sin with the imposition of ashes upon a sackcloth banner.

But why ashes?

Gardeners know that ashes can be used to help grow plants. But basically ashes are worthless. In fact they are often less than worthless - they are a hindrance and a liability.  You can’t make ashes pretty by painting them, and you can’t make ashes smell good by spraying perfume on them. Ashes are just ashes.

And so it is with us - people are just people. When all is said and done, no matter how much righteous paint we cover ourselves with, no matter how much virtuous perfume we spray on ourselves, what we are left with are thoughts and feelings and actions that are best buried and forgotten.

So why do we bother tonight smearing ashes upon a banner? Why do we gather and remember what we are on Ash Wednesday?

The answer is also in those black ashes. For these are not randomly smeared upon sackcloth by children and adults. They are in a shape. They are in the shape of the cross. The symbolism this evening speaks loudly, unmistakably. Though your body will someday become nothing more than a heap of ash, a pile of dirt in a dirt-filled world, it is the cross that has saved you. Jesus Christ, your Savior, died upon that cross so that He might grant life to your dead body and bring light to your black soul.

Worship with us this evening so that we may see the cross in those ashes. 


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