A small group of adults and students gathered in the church’s courtyard on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. They took part in a brief and informative service of preparation for Lent as Pastor Tom, Pastor Warren and church member Steve McKay, burned last year’s Palm Sunday fronds to use for this year’s Ash Wednesday ashes. Steve and Lynne Hoyer, another member of the congregation both brought in palms they personally had saved from last year, adding to the church’s supply. Jenny Laabs, Immanuel’s Director of Music Education brought students.
The service began, and ended with prayer:
Father, the light that is Jesus shines in our world. Through him we stand in the glow of that light and share in your glory. Make this fire holy, burn away the old and sinful way we live, clean away the ashes, bring us back to loving and trusting you. Make our lives new, turn us toward the light of Easter, that one day we may live with Jesus who is alive and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
- Almighty God, show us the way to live this new life, help us to follow Jesus’ example, give us the words and actions to share this joy with others. We can only live this new life with your help. We call upon you in the name of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord now and forever. Amen.
Why do this?
Ashes are all that’s left after a fire that destroys. God wants us to love and trust only in God. To sin is to turn away from God’s love, to not trust God. Sin will reduce us to ashes, but because of God’s forgiveness and everlasting faithfulness to his wayward children, ashes, which are also used to make soap, will wash away our sin.
On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of what our sinfulness costs us, but also of the loving God that raises his children up from the dust and ashes to abundant life. Ash Wednesday is the departure date for a journey that leads us from exile from God to eternal life with God.
Ash Wednesday is the first day in Lent. And after Lent comes Easter. Remember, without Easter, there is no real life. Simply put, without Easter, there’s no Christianity. And everyone needs to know this. May the world know what we know!