From a very well-received new article at the Lutheran Lenses website:
"Many non-Lutherans wonder why their Lutheran friends or family members wear ashes on their forehead at the beginning of Lent. Are they showing off? Are they trying to stand out? Is it some weird secret church ritual? What does it mean? Should I get them too?"
Link: Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust: Why Lutherans Receive Ashes on Ash Wednesday