Posted by: John Adams | February 24, 2009

Ash Wednesday

I am excited because this year is the first that I will celebrate Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season leading up to Easter. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Lent is a forty-day season celebrated by more liturgical members of the Christian church. It is a way for Christians to identify with Jesus’ forty day temptation in the wilderness. By practicing a Lenten discipline (which usually involves giving up something that is meaningful and difficult to let go of), we identify with Jesus and symbolize our desire to be purified so that we can behold the glory of God at Easter.

Forty is a number that often represents trouble and judgment in Scripture. Noah was in the ark for forty days and forty nights while humanity was judged for its sins. Jonah gave the Ninevites forty days to repent before God brought judgment. As a result of their unbelief, the Israelites wandered forty years in the wilderness before God would allow them to enter the rest of the promised land. Before he began his ministry, the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness for forty days to be proved by Satan. Periods of forty often represent times of decision, when great things are at stake.

Tomorrow, as a community, we here at Asbury will participate in Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent with the sign of the cross being applied to our foreheads with ashes. Ashes are a symbol of lamentation in the Bible–people would dress themselves in sackcloth and ashes to declare their grief or warn of coming judgment. In the same way, we as believers are declaring that though we are dust, though we are sinners, though we grieve and mourn and suffer trials in this life, are marked by the sign of the cross, the sign that guarantees that we will see the glory of God revealed in the face of Christ at Eastertime.

Read more about Lent, or for a very good article that first made me curious about Lent, read “Ash Wednesday Evangelism” by Lauren Winner.

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Responses

  1. So what are you giving up? 🙂

  2. Facebook and NBA-related websites. I spend way too much time on both.

  3. I’m not taking part this year but I have since ’06… it’s a good thing.


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