Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Its official name is “Day of Ashes,” so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross. Since it is exactly 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Day it will always fall on a Wednesday—there cannot be an “Ash Thursday” or “Ash Monday.”

While the Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday, it does record accounts of people in the Old Testament using dust and ashes as symbols of repentance. The modern tradition of rubbing the ashes of a palm cross on a person’s forehead follows the tradition.

This year, Ash Wednesday, falls right in the middle of half term. Raymond and Alison will be away, and Andrew is not in a position to take that service, so Sally has invited us to join the congregation at St Andrews, North Swindon at 7.30 pm that evening. The address of the church is Tadpole Ln, Blunsdon St Andrew, SN25 2DW.