Ash Wednesday – Whatever is Ash Wednesday

 

Ash Wednesday !!??  Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe not !

Ash Wednesday is another of those important days celebrated by some denominations of Western Christianity.

Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of the Season of Lent, which begins 40 days before Easter and ends on Holy (Maundy) Thursday, the day before Good Friday. Sundays are not included in the count. I will explain this further in my next post about the Season of Lent

Why Ash Wednesday?

Although the Christian Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the Season of Lent, the practice of confession, repentance and mourning in “sackcloth and ashes” for past sins and failures is mentioned many times in the scriptures.

2 Samuel 13:19, Esther 4:1, Job 2:8, Daniel 9:3 and Matthew 11:21

Sackcloth was coarse cloth made from goat or camel’s hair, or from flax, hemp or cotton. The discomfort caused by this rough clothing was meant to remind the penitent of his sinfulness (Romans 3:23)

Ashes have continued down the centuries, since the time of Christ, to be a symbol of penance.

Ashes on the Forehead

These days we do not remove our clothes and wear this very rough irritating cloth, nor throw ashes over our heads as a sign of confession and repentance. Instead, ashes are applied to the forehead of the worshipers, in the sign of the cross.

Ash on Forehead

“Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return”   or

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel”

This act encourages humility, reminds us of our mortality and encourages us to live Christ centred lives.

Christians believe that, although this life is short, this is the prelude to and preparation for eternal life with Jesus. The work of redemption will not be complete until we are raised from the dead and get the new bodies He has promised us. (1 Corinthians 16:51-54)

Where do the Ashes come From ?

Do you remember “Palm Sunday”?

This was the day recorded in the four Gospels ( Matthew 21:8, Mark 11:7, Luke 19.35 and John 12:13), in the new Testament.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people threw their clothes and palm fronds on to the ground in front of him, while shouting –

Jesus on Palm Sunday


“Hosanna, Blessed is the King of Israel, that comes in the Name of The Lord”

The Ashes come from the palm fronds ( which have been blessed) that were used for last year’s Palm Sunday celebration. The ashes are sprinkled with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense.

The ashes are worn by some for the entire day, on Ash Wednesday, as a witness to others that they are followers of Christ.

 

In my next post I will talk more about Lent, it’s history and meaning.

 

Doctor Bill


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