Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Built upon the image of Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness in which he fasted and prepared for his ministry.
Our Lenten Season consists of 40 days plus 6 Sundays. Since early Christians did not believe it was right to fast on Sundays, which were meant to be little Easters, which celebrated the resurrection of our Lord, the fast days were to be just during the week. Traditionally this was a time of penitence in which we recognize our mortal nature and face honestly our failure to live our lives according to God’s purpose. For some early believers, it was the final period of preparation before they received their baptism at Easter, which recognized they had died to an old way of life and were raised to a new way of life.
For many Christians it has served as a period of rededication to the ethical, spiritual, and socially engaged way of Christian life. How many of us have “given up something for Lent?”
The ashes on the forehead are a sign of humility marking the beginning of our reflection on our lives and a sign of our repentance.
“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
In our tradition the palms given out on Palm Sunday the year before are saved and burnt to create the ashes we use in the service.
Since Lent was a time of fasting, the tradition of Mardi Gras and also the idea of Shrove Tuesday (using up cooking oil and eating extra sweets) were means of getting celebration out of one’s system before beginning a period of serious reflection and rededication.
On Wednesday, March 6th, in the Sanctuary, we will hold our Ash Wednesday Service at 6:30 p.m.. All ages are invited.