“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
For nearly a thousand years, the words above have been spoken to young and old alike as the sign of the cross is traced on their foreheads with ashes. With it begins a 40 day journey of recognition and repentance for our sins. At the end of this journey is the greatest celebration in the church year: The Resurrection Of Our Lord (aka Easter). We invite you to take the opportunity this year to renew your focus on our Christian faith. Lent is traditionally a time of increased prayer, reflection and study of God’s Word. This focus on repentance and our need for the forgiveness of sins causes us to remember our baptisms, where Christ claimed us as His own and forgives our sins. Join your family at Zion in prayer and song as we wonder anew at the glory and mystery of the Lamb of God being offered in trade for you and me. Because Christ lives, so do we!
How Long is Lent?
The Lenten season of prayer, repentance, and sacrifice in preparation for the Easter celebration lasts for 40 days, not including Sundays. It has been observed since the earliest times in the Christian church. The 40 days may represent the 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness awaiting entrance to the Promised Land. It is also linked to the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness after His baptism.
What’s the deal with ashes?
The imposition of ashes on the foreheads of Christians is an ancient Christian practice, going back at least to the 10th century. Biblically, ashes are a symbols of mortality and repentance (see Numbers 19:9, 17; Hebrews 9:13; Jonah 3:6; Matthew 11:21, and Luke10:13 ).
The ashes remind us that we are sinful and mortal. In many churches the ashes are made by burning the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. On Ash Wednesday, ashes are placed on the forehead in the sign of a cross and the following words are spoken: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” recalling God’s words to Adam in Genesis 3:19.
When does Lent start?
This year Ash Wednesday falls on February 14 – Valentine’s Day. While the world is thinking about romantic love, we Christians will also be focusing on the greatest Love the world has ever seen: Jesus Christ dying and rising again for us broken sinners.
You will also notice that Easter this year is on April 1st. While the world may laugh and think us to be fools for trusting in a man who died and rose again 2000 years ago, we know what our God says about fools. Romans 1:22, 1 Corinthians 1:18–25. Indeed, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”