Ash Wednesday – Marked by God
On Wednesday, February 10th, NorthPark Presbyterian Church will host Ash Wednesday services to begin the season of Lent. Two identical services will be offered at 12:00 and 7:00 p.m. Each service will last no more than 30 minutes and will include an optional marking of the ashes in the form of a cross on the forehead.
While Ash Wednesday has been practiced for 1,400 years, it was thought to be an excess of the Catholic Church during the time of the Reformation. In the last 50 years many Presbyterian churches have begun to recapture the powerful experience found in observing Ash Wednesday.
The ashes (which are burned from last year’s Palm Sunday palm branches) symbolize our repentance and are powerful enough on their own. Then the words are spoken while the cross of ashes is placed on the worshiper's forehead. They are even more sobering: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:19)
The hard truth of these words is that one day we will leave this life. However, placing the ashes in the form of a cross illustrates that in life and in death we are held in the loving hands of God. The truth is hard, but it is also liberating. Every moment is a gift. In every moment of eternity we have been marked by God for service and love. It is these hard yet liberating truths to which we bear witness on Ash Wednesday and throughout the season of Lent.