15 Feb Ash Wednesday
Dr. Paul R. Fetters
When an ashen cross is lightly marked on the forehead of a Christian participating in an Ash Wednesday service on February 22, worshippers who are present are reminded that we are earthly creatures made from the dust of the earth.
“…all come from dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecc. 3:20b)
As children of God, we will remember our baptism into the Christian faith and our journey with our Saviour following conversion. We will remember that we are the body of Christ, living in community with others who wear the smudge of the cross.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten Season. Throughout the Christian Church, this season is known as a time of repentance and turning from sin and renewal of faithfulness to the Gospel. Ashes and sackcloth were symbolic of repentance, sorrow, and grief in the Old Testament, throughout the intertestamental centuries, and in the New Testament as alluded to by Jesus.
The Lenten Season spans 40 days of spiritual devotion marked by three spiritual disciplines: alms-giving, fasting, and praying.
Since the time of my new birth at the Willshire Zion Church of the United Brethren in Christ, I have been observing the spiritual disciplines of the Lenten Season–fasting (the denying of self), alms-giving (self-denial offering for missions), and praying (reflecting on and meditating upon the suffering and death of Jesus Christ). For many including myself, the receiving of the ashes has become a meaningful part of the observance.
As Christian believers, foregoing or receiving the ashes, let us welcome the Lenten Season.