We are commanded to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
When did United Methodists start the “imposition of ashes” on Ash Wednesday?
Whil many think of actions such as the imposition of ashes, signing with the cross, foot washing, and the use of incense as some things that only Roman Catholics or high church Episcopalians do, there has been a move among Protestant churches, including United Methodists to recover these more multi-sensory ways of worship. This is in keeping with a growing recognition that people have multiple ways of learning and praying. worship that is oriented to the intellect or to the emotions, both interior, leaves out those who engage in prayer through vision, smell, touch, movement, etc. We are increasingly aware that people are formed in faith when practices become embedded in memory, nerves, muscles and bone through sensory engagement.
United Methodists have had resources for worship that include the imposition of ashes since 1979 when Ashes and Fire was published as Supplemental Worship Resources 8. This practice became part of our official worship resources in 1992 when General Conference adopted The United Methodist Book of worship (UMBOW). It is, of course, option, and no congregation or individual is required to participate in Ash Wednesday worship or the imposition of ashes.