Ash Wednesday this year will be Feb 26 at 6:00.
Why should you go to this service?
The period of Lent begins on this day. Lent is the season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. We reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and suffering. If you grew up in the church this may be a normal thing to do, a tradition. You may be surprised to know that unlike communion or “The Last Supper”, Jesus did not direct us specifically to observe Lent.

Lent is however based on actual events in Scripture. Putting ashes on one’s head was a sign of grief, mortality, humiliation, or penitence. The Old Testament is full of examples: David when his child was sick, Tamar, the people of Nineveh after Jonah preached to them, Ezekiel, Job and many more. Fasting was also a part of a believer’s life. Jesus had this to say about fasting. In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “when you fast” not “if you fast”. The 40-day period refers to Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness.

The early church (the first 300 years or so) did not observe “Lent” as a 40-day period, but they did recognize sackcloth and ashes as a means of showing penance. Lent became widespread through the Church after the council of Nicaea in 325 AD until Martin Luther threw out the practice in the Reformed Church. He said it was not biblically based. It took a while for the Reformed churches to re-new the practice. The mark of ashes always seemed to be a matter of choice. I grew up in a local Lutheran church and we did not put ashes on our foreheads, nor do I remember anyone fasting. The understanding was from Genesis 3:19, we are mortal (ashes to ashes), but we didn’t use any ashes so to me Ash Wednesday did not make much sense. Traditions are better when you understand why it is done. Rev. Elam does an excellent job of explaining what we are doing and why. If Ash Wednesday has not been a part of your tradition, Feb. 26th is a good time to add it.

What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? Or better yet, what does it mean to “you”? Lent is a good time to think about that.

                                                                     -James Bost​​