This somber prayer service marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. We will open Lent with a half hour service of prayer, meditation, and, if you so choose, the taking of ashes.
The ashes are taken from last year’s Palm Sunday palm branches. They are burned and crushed. So, the symbol of the celebratory attitude of Palm Sunday (the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem being welcomed as king) is turned to a time of deep reflection. Much like the ancient forms of mourning (sackcloth and ashes), it marks a change of heart and focus, remembering the great price Jesus paid for our salvation.