Why Should You Attend our Ash Wednesday Service?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season in the church year known as Lent. Lent is a time to prepare for the celebration of Easter and to renew our life in the mystery of the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance and for the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus we begin our journey to Easter with the sign of ashes, a biblical symbol of mourning and an acknowledgment that we are not the people that God longs for us to be. This ancient sign speaks our need for humility before God.
The origin of the custom of using ashes goes back to ancient times. Perhaps the best known example of repentance in the Old Testament also involves sackcloth and ashes. When the prophet Jonah finally obeyed God’s command and preached in the great city of Nineveh, his preaching was amazingly effective. Word of his message was carried to the king of Nineveh. “When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes” (Jonah 3:6). We find references to Job using ashes as a sign of repentance, and the prophet Jeremiah calls for repentance this way: “O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes” (Jeremiah 6:26). The prophet Daniel pleaded for God to rescue Israel with sackcloth and ashes as a sign of Israel’s repentance: “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3).
In the New Testament, Jesus refers to the use of sackcloth and ashes as signs of repentance: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes” (Matthew 11:21, Luke 10:13).
In light of this, we have designed a service that gives us the opportunity to prepare ourselves for our Lenten journey this year. We hear the words of Scripture that call us to repent and walk through a time of meditation that allows us to do inventory of our lives. We will be given the opportunity to receive ashes, in the name of Christ, followed by participation in a service of Communion that reminds us of God’s love in spite of our need for repentance. This will prepare us to observe Lent through self-examination and penitence, prayer and fasting, works of love, and reading and meditating on the Word of God.
Join us for this service of preparation on Ash Wednesday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m.
Steve Ranney, Pastor