Every year Ash Wednesday falls 46 days before Easter. Christians of many backgrounds go to church and walk out with a black smudge on their head. So, what’s the deal?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Christian season known as Lent (no, not the stuff in your belly-button, that’s “lint”). Historically, Lent was a time when new Christians prepared themselves for baptism on Easter Sunday. Today, Lent more often is a time when Christians prepare themselves for Easter and are invited to deeper faith, stronger community, and a closer connection to God. This preparation happens through an emphasis on a few basic faith practices: worship, prayer, generosity, self-denial, and service to others.
Lent is season for changing your life, for turning things around, for getting back on the right path – what we sometimes call, in church-speak, “repentance.” It lasts for 40 days (not counting Sundays); reminding us of the flooding rains of Noah’s time (Genesis 7:17-19), Israel wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 32:13), and of Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Mark 1:12-13).
The ashes of Ash Wednesday remind us of our mortality. God created humankind from the dust of the earth, and it is to dust that we shall all return. “Remember you dust, and to dust you shall return” we are told. Our time on this earth is short – are we living the life to which God has called us? Are we prepared to give an account for how we have spent our days?
Ash Wednesday isn’t a cheerful celebration. But if we take it seriously, Ash Wednesday can be the beginning of a changed life. Are you ready for more? Deeper faith, stronger community, and a closer relationship with God?
Join us at Spirit of Joy! for Ash Wednesday worship, March 1, at 6:30pm
– Pastor David