Ash Wednesday
“Exiles!” – 1 Peter 1:1-2

“Remember: you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Those are the words that are said as the ashes of the palm branches are placed on our forehead on Ash Wednesday. But there is more. Dust is not our destiny. Peter greets those he loved and wanted to encourage with a proclamation that they are exiles. They were no longer citizens of Jerusalem but exiled to the far reaches of the known world. They now lived in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia and Lincoln. Exiled for how long? When do we get to return to our home?

Question for this week: Peter’s name originally was Simon. Who gave him the name Peter?

Answer: Simon’s brother Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at Simon and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter.)

Imposition of Ashes
This ancient act is a gesture of repentance and a powerful reminder about the meaning of the day. Ashes symbolize dust-to-dustness and remind worshipers of the need for cleansing, scrubbing, and purifying. The ashes are from burned palm leafs. If you choose, the ashes will be placed, using the thumb, in the sign of the cross on your forehead, with these words: “Remember: you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”