Every year, around 6 weeks before Easter, the Christian church celebrates Ash Wednesday. This year, Ash Wednesday falls on March 6. Tomorrow. You will see people walking around with black smudges on their foreheads. It is an ancient tradition that the church practices to mark the beginning of the season of Lent.
Lent is a season when Christians prepare themselves for Easter. It is a season that has long been associated with prayer, meditation and reflection. In Lent all who follow Jesus are invited to deeper faith, a stronger community, and a closer connection to God. In Lent, we re-dedicate ourselves to the practices of our faith (prayer, reading scripture, giving, serving, worship) in order to experience the grace of God in new ways.
And Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) for turning our lives back towards God. The Greek word we often use is Metanoia, which means “to turn around.” By turning, we believe that we are getting ourselves back on the right path…the path to which God calls us. Another word we sometimes use for this is “repentance.”
Tomorrow, we place the ashes on our forehead to remind us of our mortality. When you step forward in worship, and the ashes are placed on your forehead (in the same spot as the cross was made in your baptism) you will hear the words “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This reminds us that our time on earth is short, and we ask ourselves: “are we living as God calls us to live? Are we loving God with our whole heart, soul and mind? Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves?”
Ash Wednesday is a quiet and reflective time. It is a time when we wonder if we are ready to receive the gifts that Jesus brings: A deeper faith, a stronger community, and a closer relationship with God. Are you ready?
Let’s become ready…and let’s step into this Lenten journey…together.
PS – one of my favorite musicians is Jonathan Rundman. He wrote a song called “Ashes on my Forehead” that I love. And who knew that you could write a song about Ash Wednesday? I will also post this on our Facebook feed tomorrow…but here’ and sneak-preview: