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, and so forth. We are increasingly aware that people are formed in faith when practices become embedded in memory, nerves, muscles, and bone through sensory engagment.
United Methodists have had resources for worship that include the imposition of ashes since 1979 when Ashes to Fire was published as Supplemental Worship Resource 8. This practice became part of our official worship resources in 1992 when General Conference adopted The United Methodist Book of Worship. See the service for Ash Wednesday, pp. 321-324. It is, of course, optional and no congregation or individual is required to use it.
Other such practices were adopted in 1992. See The United Methodist Book of Worship
- footwashing for Holy Thursday, pp. 351-354
- meditation at the cross for Good Friday, pp. 363-364
- incense for Evening Praise and Prayer, p. 574