Lent Begins! Joins us for Ash Wednesday Service, Wednesday, March 6 @ 7:00.
(Rev. Jeanne adjusts her Minister/Historian hat) In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). The 40 days of Lent mirror the 40 years that the Israelite people wandered in the wilderness before entering the “promised land,” and the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness before beginning his ministry. We are also doing a lot of “wandering in the wilderness” at UCH right now. So I invite us all to pay careful attention to the movement of the Holy Spirit in coming days.
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, spiritual practice (such as “giving something up”), and repentance/evaluation (Where do we need to retrace our steps and “turn around?”). During most Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers as a reminder of our mortality and need for this yearly practice. Ashes from the previous year’s Palm Sunday palms are traditionally burned and used for this (In case you were wondering about that vase full of dead palm branches in my office).
Interestingly, the Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent since it evolved much later out of Roman Catholic tradition. However, the practice of repentance is mentioned repeatedly by John the Baptist, and Jesus, and the call for repentance and the connection of ashes with mourning is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21. Repentance is an incredibly important part of our ongoing spiritual journey of deepening, forgiveness, and transformation.
This Year our Ash Wednesday service will take place at 7:00 on March 6. Join us for a time of listening, poetry, and music in our sanctuary. I will be offering ashes on hands or foreheads if you wish. Or you can just come and be in community for this simple, quiet reflective service. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday evening as we begin our Lenten journey together! -Rev. Jeanne