Ash Wednesday is coming. That means Lent is coming. That means Easter is coming! And all this begs about three questions. Just what is Ash Wednesday? And what is Lent? And what is Easter? And what does it all mean and matter in the end anyway?
I’m so happy you asked.
In Philippians 3:10, Paul writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” This is what Easter is all about. But he continues, “…and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death.” This is Ash Wednesday and Lent.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten fast, which itself is a season of penitence. Ash Wednesday is a day of humility.
The practice of celebrating Ash Wednesday in the church dates back as early as the eighth century, but the association of ashes with repentance goes even further back into the Old Testament. For us, celebrating Ash Wednesday and having the ashes put on our forehead is a physical and tangible way we remember we live in a broken world. And we remember we are not just victims of this broken world but collaborators in it.
Lent is 40 days of fasting and repentance. Remember two weeks ago we read the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22. One particular guy got into the party without the right clothes on. If Easter is the feast, Lent is the season to put the right clothes on. We acknowledge our sins, personal and corporate, things done and not done.
Maybe you’ve heard of people giving stuff up for Lent. The point is not masochism or self-deprivation. The point is sharing with Jesus–sharing the sufferings of Jesus, sharing the sufferings of Christians around the world.
Easter is 40 days of feasting and celebrating the victory of Jesus’ resurrection. We celebrate that sin and death have been defeated by Jesus. We celebrate that Jesus is making all things new.
So as you start your journey to Easter, and if you’re in town on Wednesday, join us in the sanctuary at 12:15 pm for a brief lunch-hour worship service.