Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a period to focus on turning away from the ways of the world and seeking the ways of Christ.
Ash Wednesday has only been a common practice of the church for a millennium and widespread in this nation for half a century. Ashes are traditionally associated with repentance and sometimes with mourning. But we have repented and seek to draw closer to God. Why should I participate?
Jesus never participated in an Ash Wednesday service. He had no need to repent or to model repentance as he had modeled servanthood. Realize, it’s an old but modern tradition as far as the church goes. It should remind us to cast off everything that hinders and seek the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
All should seek to grow closer to God and Lent offers a special time to do this just as you worship at a specific time in the assembly with other believers, so too is there a special time to make a surge effort to turn away from the evil in the world and seek God, his kingdom, and his righteousness above all thins.
Some fast during this period. We are counseled not to fast as the Pharisees did, with long faces announcing to the world that they were obeying God.
Some seek to lift burdens and oppression from others who are worse off than we are.
Some partake of a form of sacrifice usually by giving up a food item or something that gratifies us.
Some just pray more, give more, or judge less.
It is a shared time with individual worship and service as people are led to participate.
For this year, I suggest the following three things over and beyond your current service and worship.
Give up half an hour each day of things that are usually not fruitful—television, Facebook, watching videos, and the like. You might want to give up things not so easily measured in time: complaining, disparaging others, insistence on your own way.
Give a food offering every time you enter the church building.
Give an offering to the Goat and Two Chickens offering.
You may choose something else or nothing at all but these are three things that we could do together. Because during Lent we suspend our weekly offerings to support Martha, you may want to make a special offering for her.
At the end of this period, we will have a special day to celebrate the resurrection. We should celebrate the resurrection of the Lord and our life eternal every day, but will have a special celebration on Sunday, 4 April 2021.