Why Observe Ash Wednesday?
What exactly is Ash Wednesday? How and why is Ash Wednesday related to and connected to Lent?
In the Bible, ashes are always associated with humility, fasting and remorse. Many times, as a sign of one’s sincere remorsefulness, one would sprinkle ashes on his or her head. When God speaks to Job regarding Job’s doubts about God’s presence in the midst of his pain and challenges, Job responds, “My ears had heard about You but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:5-6). During the 6th and 7th centuries, Christian churches made it a public practice to sprinkle ashes on their foreheads to demonstrate their repentance of their inward and outward sins and transgressions towards humankind and God.
Why do we place ashes on the forehead on Wednesday? Wednesday commences the 40 day period, excluding Sundays, leading up to Easter, as we begin our journey with our Lord to Calvary and ultimately to the Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning. Lent is a time for us to be introspective and ask God to help us to examine ourselves to the end that we can honestly confess our sins to Him and ask for forgiveness. The Bible declares, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9).
Today we live in a world where the truth is being blurred, racism has raised its ugly head in an overt manner and people are doing what they believe is right in their own minds. Lent is a time to allow Jesus to be our GPS mechanism. I heard Jesus say, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
Won’t you commence this journey with us today as we are anointed with ashes which remind us of our mortality? The Bible declares that from dust we came and to dust we will return (Ecclesiastes 3:20). However, as we walk with Jesus through this season, He will renew our strength and assure us that we will receive the victory which will ultimately lead us to eternal life. The Apostle Paul declares that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead also dwells in us (Romans 8:11).
Dear God, please give us the grace and strength to journey with Your Son, Jesus, to Calvary and ultimately join Him in the power of His resurrection. May we be able to sing with the hymnologist; “My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought; my sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to His cross and I bear it no more; Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul!” Amen.