First Congregational Church distributed ashes on Wednesday to celebrate Ash Wednesday, a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting signifying the beginning of the Lenten season. In between having ashes in the shape of a cross placed on their forehead, they shared what it means to them.
Ann Kennedy said, for her, Ash Wednesday means sacrificing the way that God sacrificed for everyone on the cross in the Christian tradition. “He gave up so much for us,” Kennedy said. “It is a sign of a new beginning and of spring.”
UPS worker Scott Chaffee stopped by along his route to have his ashes distributed. “It’s a refresher of letting go of sins, ending with the resurrection, with a goal of eternal life,” Chaffee said.
First Congregational Church Rev. William Ladd said the Lenten journey allows for him to go deeper into his faith. “It allows me to be better on my journey this day than I was yesterday,” Ladd said. The mainstream Protestant Reverend, whose church has approximately 50 active parishioners, said he is giving up expectation, such as when drivers don’t acknowledge his courtesy in traffic, for the Lenten season.
Betty Neth said while getting her ashes on her forehead that Ash Wednesday is the whole Easter story from beginning to end. “It’s close to my heart,” Neth said.
Cassandra Roy, who plans to give up sweets and also expectations, said it’s a time of renewal and a fresh start.
Arlene and Gene Decareau, who have been married for 69 years, said the season is a time of reflection.
First Congregational Church Deacon Barbara Davis said the day celebrates releasing herself from sins.
Leslie DeLand, who is giving up being judgmental for Lent, said it is the beginning of 40 days. “It’s so personal,” Ladd said. “It’s about growing closer to Jesus.”