Ash Wednesday

10:09 AM

Happy Ash Wednesday! I thought it'd be nice to take a little time to talk about what the day really means.

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holiday (holy day) that is not a biblical requirement (rather like Christmas and Easter). Nevertheless, it has been honored by Christians for well over ten centuries at the beginning of Lent, a six-week season of preparation for Easter. In the earliest centuries, Christians who had fallen into persistent sin had ashes sprinkled on their bodies as a sign of repentance, even as Job repented "in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6). Around the tenth century, all believers began to signify their need for repentance by having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. Notice: even this sign of sinfulness hinted at the good news yet to come through its shape. Ash Wednesday is not some dour, depressing holy day because it symbolically anticipates Good Friday and Easter.

In honor of the symbolism of repenting our sins on Ash Wednesday, most of us give up something for lent. I used to see it as a small sacrifice that I could do to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Most of the things I gave up for lent over the years have been some sort of combination of soda, chocolate and fried foods. Pretty much everything I loved, but new was bad for me. I used to live for those "cheat" Sundays because Sunday didn't count in the 40 days. 

What are you planning on giving up this year? Or are you? I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I'm going to do this year, but I'm considering doing something instead of giving something up. Like trying to be a little nicer, a little calmer or a little more patient in my everyday life. 

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