We will soon enter the season of Lent. A 40-day time period of preparation before Easter where many Christians observe a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, self-denial and other spiritual disciplines. All of these disciplines are designed to help set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ and his life, suffering, sacrifice, death, burial, and resurrection.
Ash Wednesday on February 17 marks the onset of the Lent, It is also known as the 'Day of Ashes', because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross. The name 'Day of Ashes' comes from "Dies Cinerum" in the Roman Missal and is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary. The concept originated by the Roman Catholics somewhere in the 6th century. Though the exact origin of the day is not clear, the custom of marking the head with ashes on this Day is said to have originated during the papacy of Gregory the Great (590-604).
In the Old Testament ashes were used for two purposes: a sign of humility and mortality; and as a sign of sorrow and repentance for sin. As Christians we continue to make this same connection on Ash Wednesday. We receive ashes on our head in the sign of the cross to remind us of our mortality and our sorrow for sin. We enter into a state of penitence as we humble ourselves before God and recognize that only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we defeat the impulses of our sinful desires.
In 2021 we will be having a digital Ash Wednesday service. Ash Wednesday has traditionally been a short somber service and we will continue that practice. It also has been a very small service but I hope you will consider joining this year. I believe you will be blessed, challenged, and encouraged. Please be looking for the emails that will include the information you will need to log in to either Zoom or Facebook at 7PM on Wednesday February 17.
I hope that you have received your Lenten devotional in the mail. This will be the focus of our Wednesday night studies all the way up until Easter. If you did not get one please email the church at firstname.lastname@example.org with your physical address and we will get one to you as soon as possible.