Ash Wednesday, February 17, marks the beginning of the season of Lent. This year at FUMC Allen, we’ll offer two worship opportunities to observe Ash Wednesday: the first at 12:00pm in the West or East Parking lot and the second at 7:00pm in the sanctuary.
On this holy day, we remember that we are dust, receiving ashes upon our heads. Yet, we are also fearfully and wonderfully made by our God who breathed life into a little bit of dust.
Come experience this holy ritual in worship.
The Imposition of Ashes
Ashes are a sign of mourning in the Bible. Job “sat among the ashes” when he was stricken. When Tamar is raped by Amnon, she “put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe which she wore; and she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went” (2 Samuel 13:19). In Esther Chapter 4, when Mordecai and the Jews learn of the order for their persecution, they put on sackcloth and ashes. Most famously, in Jonah 3:6, when the king of Nineveh is told to repent, “he arose from his throne, removed his robe and covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes.”
The use of ashes – or sometimes just “dust” – may have several origins. Ashes appear frequently in the Hebrew scriptures as the result of the Temple sacrifice, so they were plentiful and symbolized what remained after an offering was burnt up. Ashes and dust are trodden under feet, seen as lowly and despised. Ashes are symbolic of death and loss as we are reminded in Genesis that we are dust and to dust we shall return. When Abraham questions God about the fate of Sodom and Gemorrah, he recalls that he “is but dust and ashes.”
Participants at the drive-in service will receive a small container of ashes and a cotton swab with which they can impose the ashes on their foreheads. When making your reservations, please indicate how many people will be in your vehicle so that we have enough ashes to accommodate them.
At the sanctuary service, worshipers will be given their ashes for self-imposition as they depart the sanctuary. Masks are required for all attendees, and social distancing protocols will be in place. Childcare will be available for kids 4 years and younger.
If you are attending the evening service virtually and would like to receive your ashes in advance (porch drop or pick up), please indicate your preference on this form so that we can have them ready for you or can make arrangements for delivery.
To prepare for both services, we request that anyone planning to attend register their intentions. We have two reservation options: one for the 12:00pm service and another for the 7:00pm service. Based on the 12:00pm registrations, we will hold that service either on the West Greenville Avenue side or on the East Courtyard side of the building.