Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ash Wednesday Altar- Worship Arts

Our church recognizes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent when we prepare for the resurrection. For many, this ushers forth a period of fasting and spiritual discipline.

From The United Methodist Book of Worship-

“Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: our sinfulness before God and our human mortality. The service focuses on both themes, helping us to realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 “During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship. Historically, ashes signified purification and sorrow for sins.

“It is traditional to save the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday service to burn to produce ashes for this service. Sometimes a small card or piece of paper is distributed on which each person writes a sin or hurtful or unjust characteristic. The cards are then brought to the altar to be burned with the palm branches. The ash cross on the forehead is an outward sign of our sorrow and repentance for sins.”


 For Ash Wednesday, I re-used the canvas scrolls which were part of the Living Banners last year. I flipped the strips over and weaved them together on the altar, then let the ends hang over the front. On each, I painted a black cross in acrylic paint with a dry brush technique to resemble the ash crosses administered at the Ash Wednesday service. The strips are just pinned together, so they will be available for future use.

 The area above the chancel which normally is draped with banners, is left blank. On the first Sunday in Lent next Sunday, the purple banners will be displayed. (Purple being the liturgical color for Lent.)

For those who observe Shrove Tuesday with pancake dinners, enjoy!

 For more on the United Methodist Church’s service of ashes, click here.

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