Your Gifts to Change the World Wednesday – Ash Wednesday

For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink.  – Psalm 102.9

It’s Ash Wednesday and the first day of lent.  Ever wonder what this religious ceremony is about or where the ashes came from?Ash Wednesday occurs every year 46 days before Easter Sunday and is a day of fasting.  Palm branches are blessed on Palm Sunday annually.  On Ash Wednesday the ashes from the previous year’s palm branches are blessed again by an officiant during a worship service.  Participants walk forward and the minister ceremonially marks a cross on each person’s forehead with the ashes instructing them to repent of their sins and proclaim their belief in the gospel (Mark 1:15), and reminding them that they came from dust and to dust they will return (Genesis 3:19).  The ceremony symbolizes our sinful nature and the importance of repenting.

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Lent is a 40 day period that is meant to keep Christians mindful  of the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness hungry and tempted three times by Satan.  It’s a solemn time of focusing on Christ and asking for forgiveness.  During Lent Christians often give up or add something as a reminder of what Jesus went through.  There are also days of fasting and prayer.  Christ has taught us that we should not make ourselves look bad or seek pity during times of fasting.  The last week of Lent is Holy Week, which includes a variety of services, such as Palm Sunday reinactments, Stations of the Cross, Maundy Thursday and Clearing of the Altar, Good Friday, Watching, the Great Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday worship services .  Lent can be a soul searching and emotional time, but it ends with a great celebration of hope.

I encourage you to participate in Ash Wednesday services today, and share your experiences and traditions.  God bless you.

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