Wednesday, February 21, 2007

ash wednesday

Today, Christians around the world celebrate Ash Wednesday. It's a pretty interesting tradition, and one I have participated in for four years now. (Last year we had an Ash Wednesday service for h2o).

For me it's kind of interesting. I didn't grow up in a family that observed this holiday. So I thought Ash Wednesday was like Arbor day or something like that. People probably planted ash trees on ash wednesday. Boy was I wrong.

In fact, I never saw anybody with ashes on their forehead until my freshman year at WVU. I didn't understand why one of my friends had something smudged on her forehead. And then I saw other people who had the same thing.

A few years ago, one of my mentors told me he would go every year to get ashes. So I asked him why.

He said that even though he didn't come from a tradition that celebrated ash wednesday, he liked the opportunity it gave for him to reflect on his walk with Jesus, and how it marked a time for Him to identify with Jesus and symbolically journey with Him (along with millions of other Christians) on a forty day wilderness period of self-denial.

I thought that was pretty cool. I mean, folks don't take time to reflect much. Plus, what a great way to connect with God and to examine your life.

As the ashes are placed on people's foreheads, someone tells that person to "Turn away from SIn and Be Faithful to the Gospel." Pretty simple message, and a good reminder to examine our life and take some time to connect with God in a fresh, new, or deeper way.

In the past I have fasted from sunrise to sunset, with total abstinence from food from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. This year, I'm thinking about a total life overhaul. Never should anyone enter into this period thinking they are earning favor with God. Rather, it is a time to let go of distractions that we might enjoy God and the life He has for us even more.

So what changes are you thinking about making during the season of lent? Are you giving up or adding anything to your life to enrich your enjoyment of God?

1 comment:

Pamela W Swope said...

Thanks for giving me something to think about! I once embraced the Catholic faith and went for ashes each year but never really realized the purpose of getting them. Now as I take the step into the 40 Days before Christ's death and resurrection, I really need to examine the impact this has on my life. Thank you again for reminding me of the importance of this time. God Bless, Pam