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Ash Wednesday starts the season of Lent, a spiritual journey for the entire congregation on our way to affirming our individual Baptism into Christ at the feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord. 


WHY A CROSS OF ASHES?

On this first day of Lent, the people of God receive an ashen cross on the forehead (a gesture rooted in baptism). It is a symbol that recognizes the primary paradox which defines our living: the grace of God which cleanses the sin that would otherwise hold us captive. The ash is a reminder of the judgment on sin: “The wages of sin is death.” The cross is a reminder of that which brings life: “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

ABSOLUTION DELAYED?

Our extended confession of sin near the beginning of the liturgy of Ash Wednesday ends with an “assurance” of forgiveness rather than a clear “absolution.” A clear statement of forgiveness will also be noticeably absent in the services during the season of Lent which usually begins with a “confession and absolution” (services which include the celebration of Holy Communion). 

This is a part of our Lenten discipline, designed to highlight the “companion” liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday. In the same way that the Imposition of Ashes is done individually, the absolution during the Reconciliation of the Penitents on that evening is also done individually as worshippers come forward to receive absolution and laying on of hands by the pastor.

If during the days of Lent, you are particularly troubled by your sin, Pastor Albers is available by appointment for individual confession and absolution.

FAREWELL TO ALLELUIAS

Ash Wednesday also begins a time where we intentionally set aside our “Alleluias,” recognizing that it is our sin that condemns our Savior. This also is designed to dramatically highlight our joy on the day of the Resurrection of Our Lord. This year Easter is on Sunday, March 31. 

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