For most of my life I was really oblivious about Ash Wednesday. It wasn't until 2004 that it really came to my attention. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ came out on that date. A movie that accomplished so much for Christians as well as bringing to light what Ash Wednesday was. It's a holiday (holy day) that Christians have honored for over ten centuries. It falls at the beginning of a 6 week season called Lent. It prepares us and leads us up to Easter. In the earliest centuries, Christians who had been stuck in persistent sin had ashes sprinkled on their bodies as a sign of repentance, even as Job repented in 'in dust and ashes' (Job 42:6). Around the 10th century, all believers began to signify their need for repentance by having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. It was to be a sign of good things to come. As we know there is an empty tomb that goes with the cross of Christ.
Which led me to think about Ash Wednesday differently, even for today. It can be taken as a 'gloomy' holiday, but it reminds that through the bad news of our sin, there is GOOD NEWS through Christ. So this Ash Wednesday I've decided to stare death in the face and acknowledge that I am mortal. But the only reason I can is because of the assurance of life, real life, eternal life that I have through Jesus. When we know our lives are in our Father's hands we can be honest about what lies ahead. We can be confident in the face of death because we serve the one who conquered death.