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Archive for March 5th, 2014

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Today is Ash Wednesday.

It is the first day of the forty days of Lent on the Christian calendar.

As I write this post it is Tuesday and I am anticipating a dinner of pancakes. Although I did not grow up in a Christ-centered home, this was a practice in my home growing up, and I feel a great sense of nostalgia in participating in this tradition.

Tuesday is often known as Pancake Tuesday, Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) or Shrove Tuesday. It is the day before the beginning of the season of Lent. It is a day of partying and feasting before participants give something up for the days leading up to Easter. I guess it could be compared to the human practice of I’ll overeat on Sunday, and start my diet on Monday.

As one who has not practiced the exercise of Lent, Ash Wednesday was something I had to research a bit to get an understanding of it’s significance.

The name Ash Wednesday comes from the reminder in Genesis 3:19,

“You are dust, and you will return to dust.”

In some churches, to truly mark this day, the tradition is to have a cross drawn, with ashes, on the foreheads of the parishioners on this day.

But what is Lent? Easter is on the calendar as Good Friday and Easter Sunday, what’s with it being a season?

Lent is the season of waiting, of abstinence, of sacrifice and of preparation for the Holy (Easter) Week.

Many people omit, or give up, something that they enjoy on a regular basis, for the forty’ish days leading up to Easter. Frequently we will hear of people giving up chocolate, alcohol, meat, cigarettes, fish, sex, television, shopping etc. For some it is a time of giving to the poor, in time or resources. For others it is a time of ‘adding’ to their regular schedule, practices such as increased prayer.

Whatever practice one might choose, it is done as a means of sharing in the sacrifice of Christ.

Now, I love chocolate, but I do not believe that giving it up is comparable in any way to the sacrifice of Christ. So, if you do practice Lent, don’t get too pious about your sacrifice … whatever we might do is infinitesimal compared to the rejection, imprisonment, scourging, crucifixion, death, and separation from God that Jesus experienced.

It is, though, a good reminder of all that Christ has done for us.

It is a reminder to pray.

It is a reminder to love others (as He has loved us).

It is a reminder of grace …

because we are not obliged to join in the suffering …

but we reap such benefit!

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