NEW HARTFORD — The Rev. Carol Jubenville, standing behind a candle-flanked cross, started her Ash Wednesday service by quoting the Book of Joel.

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion,” she said, “and sound an alarm in my holy mountain … a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it.”

The passage from the Bible's Old Testament was the opening of the Lenten season for Christian members of The Community at Sunset Wood, an independent living facility in New Hartford. Lent is a period of 40 days, or six weeks, in which Christians prepare for Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection at Easter.

Ashes are drawn in a cross on hands or foreheads on Ash Wednesday, signifying the mortality of the body.

“For all Christians in the world, this is a time to repent and realize that this is a time to reflect upon all the blessings we’ve been given," Jubenville said after the ceremony.

Additionally, Jubenville said the Gospel typically is identical for all Christians on Ash Wednesday.

This turned out to be a good thing, as the service at The Community at Sunset Wood’s service was full of differing denominations. There were Catholics, Protestants, Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians receiving their ashes.

“Mostly it’s to give thanks for what we’ve been given,” said Adrene Moran, a guest at the Sunset Wood service and frequenter of the facility's monday night Bible reading. “And it’s all about being grateful to me.”

Most of the people in attendance were Sunset Wood residents. Each received a blessing from Jubenville with the sign of the cross before she applied the ashes to their foreheads with her thumb.

Of course, Lent is typically known for stories of church members abstaining from specific earthly pleasures. There’s value in doing that, Jubenville said, but that doesn’t necessarily communicate the true point of the season.

“That has value to it,” she said of giving something up for Lent. “But in today’s world, we need to give up being hostile to each other; we have to give up hatred.”

Contact reporter Joseph Labernik at 315-792-4995 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Labernik).