Organ pipes in the Sanctuary of First Church in Cambridge. A wrought iron chandelier hangs in the foreground.

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ashes and palms

The Theme for our Lenten Season Together

February 7, 2021

Ashes to Ashes:
A time for turning (and returning)

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return!”
Genesis 3: 19  

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Each year at Ash Wednesday, we begin our Lenten observance with a liturgy that invites us to reflect on ashes in four ways:

  • Ashes as a sign of creation.
  • Ashes as a sign of mortality.
  • Ashes as a sign of repentance.
  • Ashes as a sign of the Cross.

There is a time for every matter under heaven, especially in this season when we are daily reminded of the mounting toll of Covid, of ongoing racial inequality and terror, and of ongoing degradation of our planet. We invite you to join us through the 40 days of Lent, as we draw from the rich symbolism of ashes and turn (and return) to scripture, holding time for creation, mourning, repentance and healing.

For some, it may be a time to return to the very ground of our being, to the natural world, and to God—to reconnect with the lasting beauty, hope and healing therein. For others, it may be a time to return to and remember our own mortality, or to acknowledge and repent of our sins and brokenness, all the while knowing we are held in God’s eternal love and grace. Ashes in the sign of the cross may prompt time to reflect on, revisit, and embody the ways and patterns of Jesus’ life, suffering and death into new life. In this season of so much grief and gratitude, loss and love, we hope you will all find ways of sharing the Lenten journey with us, whether in learning sessions, small groups, or spiritual practices both contemplative and creative.

To begin your Lenten journey, join us for our Ash Wednesday worship service on February 17th. For a schedule of programming for the Lenten season visit our Lenten Programming page.

However you engage with your spiritual practices this season, First Church in Cambridge prays that you are blessed by the gifts of growth and community.