It’s not about the ashes. It’s not about whether you like those dusty particles on your forehead or hand. It’s not about where the ashes came from. The ashes are a reminder that we are mortal; that if we didn’t have waterproof caskets and sealed vaults, we would readily return to the earth from which we were made and be of some use to creation while we awaited the resurrection and the gift of new bodies. It is about heeding the call in the prophet Joel to return to the Lord with all that we are. It includes everyone, the leaders, children who would rather be playing video games, nursing infants who may disrupt the adults. Yes, even the couples on their honeymoon, who in Israel got a year off from community responsibilities in order to get to know one another.
Ash Wednesday is about remembering that for your sake Jesus who had never sinned, that is, never made a misstep in his relationship with God and his fellow human beings, took all our missteps with God and one another upon himself. God made him your sins that you might be brought back in line with God’s will with all our errors taken off the scoreboard.
Therefore, we mortals pray to the all-powerful and eternal God that He “forgive the sins of all who are repentant.” Furthermore, that He recreate us with new hearts which are sorry for our misdeeds and readily fess up to them. In order that “we may receive full pardon and forgiveness through Jesus Christ who is alive and rules the universe and our lives along with the Father and the Holy Spirit who are one God now and forever.”