According to the United Methodist Book of Worship:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: the first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty-day season of spiritual preparation. During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church. In this way, the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and of the need we all have to renew our faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent; by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word. To make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before our Creator and Redeemer.
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, so that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
I hope that as you begin this Lenten Journey that you will take the time to truly do those things. This year I, and the staff, are going to work through Bruce Epperly’s book Holy Adventure. After one day, I am really enjoying the journey!
Have a great Lent!