Ash Wednesday was something that other denominations observed, but it was not a part of the church I grew up attending. I knew that it was the start of a season before Easter when people gave up things like sweets and meat on Fridays. As a child, I was glad I was not required to give up stuff I liked. Since my childhood, I have met Christians that observe Ash Wednesday and I am learning that there are some significant things I did not know about the occasion. Here are seven:
1. Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent.
2. It occurs forty days before Easter not counting Sundays.
3. During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross on the foreheads of worshipers.
4. The ashes used are typically from the burning of palm leave s from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.
5. Ash Wednesday is primarily observed by Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican denominations.
6. The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.
7. The observance of Ash Wednesday began around the 8th century.
I appreciate the prayerful preparation leading up to the celebration of Easter. Prayer and fasting are to be a regular rhythm of life for all Christians. This is a good opportunity to emphasize both. Our church will not hold a special service on Ash Wednesday, but all of us are invited to pursue a deeper walk with our Lord Jesus Christ.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.