ASHES TO ASHES:
A DEVOTION FOR ASH WEDNESDAY
Guest writer Monte W. Holland
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6, selected verses: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven—when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you—do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing—when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret—when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret.” (RSV)
DEVOTION: In the Western church, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and the seventh Wednesday before Easter. Its name comes from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of worshipers to symbolize death and sorrow for sin.
Traditionally this is accompanied by words from Scripture, “Remember you are dust and will return to dust.”
In the Old Testament ashes were used for two purposes—first, as a sign of humility and mortality, and second, as a sign of sorrow and repentance for sin. The Christian connotation for ashes in the liturgy of Ash Wednesday is taken from this Old Testament biblical custom.
On Ash Wednesday I look forward to receiving this very visible sign of my mortality and of my intention to repent of sin and renew my spiritual commitment. On this first day in Lent the ashes on my forehead humbly, not pridefully, announce my intention very visibly to anyone I meet.
During Lent I plan to do the quiet acts of giving, of prayer, and of fasting that are intended only for the eyes of God.
PRAYER: Loving God, I choose today to announce to all who are ready to hear, my intent to end the Lenten season a changed person because I choose to draw close to you in acts that only you and I will know about. Amen.
DEVOTIONS & STUDY—