Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Why all the Ashes?

Since I was raised in a protestant, non-liturgical church Ash Wednesday has never been in my day-timer, or palm pilot! As a matter of fact, I really couldn't tell you much about it at this point, but I'm going to look it up and I'll be right back...

Ok, already hit a road block (no, my internet connection is not down). It signals the start of Lent. What's that? Again, I'll be right back...

Here's the scoop on Lent:

Lent is a time of preparation for Holy Week. Holy Week recalls the events preceding and during the crucifixion.... Fasting during Lent is a way for the Christian to identify with Jesus in his suffering....

Lent is...considered to be forty days long, due to the fact that Sundays in this season are not counted among the days of Lent. The traditional reason for this is that fasting was considered inappropriate on Sunday, the day commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus. (

How cool is that. This is a tradition of the church, not a biblical mandate. (I'll get to that later) Fasting. Now my understanding is that we are supposed to fast something to remind of us the suffering and resurrection of Christ. That's Lent.

Ash Wednesday then is:

The priest or minister marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes, in the shape of a cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until washing it off after sundown.

The symbolism echoes the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ash over one's head signifying repentance before God (as related in the Bible). (

How awesome is that? That explains all the people up here at Panera who have ashes on their heads, well, the reason they are supposed to have them.

I'm not real keen on all the trappings of Christianity, think bumper stickers, bracelets, pins, etc. But this whole idea of Ash Wednesday makes a lot of sense to me, even though I (personally) would prefer to do without the externals. I am in no way judging my good friends and others for doing this.

Personal application: I think I am going to fast chocolate. It has become an addiction in my life and I need to turn that over to God. (I know a pastor who "says" he fasts watermelon - in Cleveland, OH! He was joking!)

No ashes for me. But, I think I'll apply them to my heart. See you in 40+ days. Tye out.

Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he puts us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:23-24 (The Message)

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