1.What is Ash Wednesday? What's the deal with ashes?
Ash Wednesday is about 40 days before Easter. It is the first day of Lent. The day is named for the practice of putting ashes on our forehead in the shape of a cross.
Using ashes as a sign of repentance or being sorry for our sins is an ancient practice, mentioned in several places in the Bible. The Jewish people wore ashes and itchy sackcloth to show that they were sorry for their wrong doing and repent. The early Christians adopted the use of ashes this as an outward mark of penitence.
Ashes are symbolic of our human existence:
Ashes remind us of God's condemnation of sin.
Ashes suggest cleansing and renewal. They were used anciently in the absence of
soap. Even on Ash Wednesday, this most penitential day, we receive ashes in the
form of the cross, the same symbol placed on our bodies with water in our baptism. This reminds us of Jesus dying for us on the cross.
Ashes remind us of the shortness of human life, for when we die "We commit this body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”.
Ashes are a symbol of our need to repent, confess our sins, and return to God.