Ash Wednesday

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Lent leaped over the traditional boundary between sacramental and evangelical churches. Where once you could only find Lent in Catholic, Episcopalian, and other high church traditions, now evangelicals all over the world are embracing this tradition. Why is this happening? Because Lent is such a clear and obvious good thing. The imitation of Christ's 40 days in the desert is something that all Christians from all traditions can and should embrace. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter. The imposition of ashes carries powerful Biblical symbols of grief and repentance. The most ritualized expression of grief at the time of Christ was to wear sackcloth and ashes.

Christine Sine of Godspace is Australian, and she notes that this year, our friends down under have some new associations with ashes.

Ash Wednesday [is] the official beginning of Lent. It gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of worshippers as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned and are imprinted as a sign of the cross by the priest who presides at the service. As he does so, he recites the words: “Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” I think that this year for many of us who are Australian the imagery of ashes has much deeper significance than usual. At least 209 died in the recent bushfires which were the worst in living history, though the exact number is not known yet because some of the bodies were literally burnt to ashes. This, coupled with the memories of the 1983 bushfires which actually swept through Victoria and South Australia on Ash Wednesday destroying 2500 homes have made us very aware of our own mortality and of the brokenness of our world in which such devastation could be caused deliberately by arsonists....READ MORE.