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Reflections in the Ash
Why we celebrate Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday, a day a fasting, is the start of the Lenten season. The Lenten season is actually 46 days long - ending on Maundy Thursday. However, Sundays are exempt from Lent, instead Sunday are to be a celebration of Jesus. The other 40 days are for reflecting and fasting. Now I never give anything "up" for Lent. I usually use this time to make myself better spiritually. A time of preparation for the joyous Easter season, and I time to remember why we have the gift of eternal life. Our precious Savior, Jesus.
How to prepare the ashes
For many years the church sexton had prepared the ashes for Ash Wednesday Services. Ever since he has been gone it has been a hit and miss preparation of ashes. Last year one of the Elders tried to do it and everyone ended up with big chunky burnt leaves on their head. So I did the smart thing, I googled.
First of all the ash comes from the leftover palm fronds from the previous Palm Sunday. They are burned and this leaves the chunky burnt leaves ash. Then this is grounded down into a fine ash. This year I used my mortar and pestel and it made a very fine ash, to which I added olive oil. Funny thing though - I might over did it. The crosses looked like shiny high gloss black paint. The Pastor and I had a laugh about it. He said it was a little shocking looking out into the congregation and seeing all though black crosses.
So I learned a lesson - a little less oil next year.
What does the Bible say about Ash Wednesday
What does the Bible say about Ash Wednesday - it doesn't. In fact it is contradictory. From Matthew 6: 16-18 "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." So why do we do it - tradition. A tradition which started around the 11th Century. It is more of a mark of repentance than anything.
It is a reminder that from dust came and from dust we will return.
Lent is a season of self reflection. We first come to God asking for the forgiveness of sins and the promise that we will repent.
Take time this Lenten season to really go inward and search yourself for your mission in this life.