I'm sorry God but I just can't bring myself to do it - to buy into the cult of death which periodically sickens your Church, and participate in 'ashing' with its dreadful proclamation: 'remember that you are dust and to dust you will return'
What sort of manipulative lie is THAT for the Church to be saying?
It is a complete and utter denial of the Gospel?
I am come, says Christ - that you might have LIFE in all its fullness, that your JOY might be complete - for whoever believes in me shall NOT perish but have everlasting life:
I don't care what some sixth century Pope said -
And I am happy that Christ - the second Adam (if you want to do this theologically) has 'saved me' from Adam's fate - so - whichever way you look at it:
I am not DUST - I am YOUR child God - and I refuse to let any man tell me different!
We do not have to follow the crowd - some 'traditions' are best ignored or at least transformed.
So given that I am required by my congregation to observe this offensive catholic rite I choose to change the tradition and celebrate Ash Wednesday differently:
I am happy to trace in water and oil the baptismal cross on the forehead of those who wish to mark their acceptance of the forgiveness of Christ. I am happy to reaffirm:
Remember - you are a Child of God, you always were, you always will be.
(yes, yes, I do know God that your grace is resistible, but even a 'fallen' child of yours is STILL your child, God)
And to conclude the 'rite' with a prayer adapted from the baptismal service
There will be ashes present for those who wish to ash themselves: But I can no longer bring myself to perjure my faith and the light of the Gospel to satisfy the longing for some for the Gospel to focus on death not life.
Death happens. It takes less than a second to actually die.
Now hear the GOOD NEWS
We are so much more than dust - we were made by you to hold your breath, your Spirit, your life, your love - for all eternity.