As we get ready to celebrate Ash Wednesday, I spent a few moments to make the ashes. It is one of my favorite jobs as a pastor.
Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent. It marks the beginning of forty days of fasting and prayer that lead up to Easter. Lent is a time for self-examination, and for discernment. A special season where we slow down and reflect on who God is, who we are, and our place in the world.
Part of what makes Lent so exciting is that it is a season leading to a celebration. We know that Easter is coming, a time to celebrate what Christ accomplished for us. Lent is a way of not letting that celebration sneak up on us. There are forty days for us to prepare ourselves, heart and mind, to celebrate the empty tomb.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this wonderful season. Ashes of burned palms from last spring’s Palm Sunday celebrations are placed in the sign of a cross on people’s foreheads as a symbol of repentance and a reminder of our own mortality. As we enter this forty-day season of Lent, we are reminded of Jesus’ forty-day fast in the desert.
As I burn the ashes each year, I spend time in prayer. I pray for those who will join us for the Ash Wednesday service. I pray for the people of First Baptist as they travel these next forty days, that they would be open to hearing clearly from Abba Father. I pray that in some small way we might connect with the journey of Jesus. I pray for all people, that this season may be on in which we are all reminded of the depth of God’s love for us.
If you are looking for an Ash Wednesday service: