Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday kicks off the Christian season known as Lent. During Lent Christians (Roman Catholic and Protestant) fast or give up something for 40 days (up until Palm Sunday).

A traditional Ash Wednesday service involves a pastor/priest making the sign of the cross, “X” (Greek) or “T” (Hebrew), on a person’ forehead. Those receiving this sign are committing to fast or give up something for 40 days. The mark also reminds us of our mortality (we’re made from dirt!) and fallen condition. The ashes are humiliating. In the Old Testament, ashes were used as an act of repentance and sorrow for sin. A great example of this is found in Jonah. After preaching to Nineveh, the king responded by taking off his royal robes, covering himself in sackcloth and sitting down in dust (ashes) Jonah 3:6.

Fasting is a discipline that puts us under God’s grace in hopes that we draw closer to Him. During the fast, we meditate on Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We deny our body something (e.g., sugar, pop, meat, all food) in order to associate with Christ and His sufferings. Jesus denied Himself and took up His cross to follow God. Should it be any different for us? Fasting forces us to rely on God for strength and nourishment. When we fast we feast on the Manna from Heaven. Fasting tells God we are not chained to the things of this world, but to Him.

I challenge you to fast something for Lent. It is time to get over the idea that Lent is somehow bad because it is associated with the Roman Catholic Church. So what! Catholics pray and read Scripture, so should we stop doing that too? Roman Catholics have been around for over a thousand years and it would be arrogant to assume our new Protestant churches are the only and true Body of Christ on earth. You're telling me there aren't Catholics who genuinely know Jesus as Lord and Savior? Lent is a sweet chance for Christians to bring Jesus and His life into their yearly calendars and make a relationship with Him a daily part of their lives.

So, what will you give up and fast for Lent? In the past our students have fasted internet, myspace, pop, specific foods, chocolate, candy. What will you do?

Here’s a link to a great sermon on Ash Wednesday for any of you interested in reading more.

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