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Ashes to ashes and dust to dust

For many Lincoln County residents, Ash Wednesday was a day of public repentance.
Attending church services, they were reminded “You are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Participants took time to think about their relationship to God, divine forgiveness and eternal life.
“We do not have very much control,” said the Rev. Jane Kempster with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. “We are in the hands of God.”
The imposition of ashes started off the season of Lent, a time of soul searching and repentance, which leads up to Easter.
“It just reminds me all the Lord has done for me,” said Verna Hovis, who attended a service at First Methodist Church.
Historically during Lent, Christians fasted as a reconciliation with God. These days, it is more common for participants to sacrifice things like chocolate, coffee or alcohol.
“We fast to remind ourselves that God provides for all of us,” Kempster said.
Some participants left the service not sure what their 40-day sacrifice would be.
“I will try to come up with something that I need to change, and I’ll do that,” said Gene Derryberry, who attended a service at First Methodist Church. “It’s like a New Year’s resolution, but with a little more thought to it.”
In a traditional service, Kempster reminded her congregation to not be a “pious hypocrite … fasting for all the wrong reasons.” Lent should be a time focused on God, not on looking impressively devout.
For David Andrews, the service is a time to “come to grips with my own humanity.”
The ashes used in the service, which can be seen on participants’ foreheads throughout the day, are a sign of morality and penitence.
“I’m here for a short time, but God can take me and use me forever,” Andrews said.

by Sarah Grano

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