Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash what?

Lent?  Ash Wednesday?  Fasting?

Do you do any of it?

As a member of a fairly traditional mainstream church, I grew up assuming that everyone followed the same traditions as I/we did.  It was only as I got older that I realised that many (most?) believers and churches don’t bother with things like Lent.

cake-or-death-cartoon-41-7-feb-2008The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, meaning ‘Spring’, and also was the word for ‘March’ when lent was usually held to begin.  In the early church, new believers were baptised on Easter Sunday, and so they observed a time of fasting for 40 days prior.  It became traditional for the whole church to fast with them, recognising that they were being baptised into the Church as a body.  From this we have the modern tradition of 40 days of lent.  The 40 days were supposed to represent the 40 days that Christ fasted in the desert before beginning his public ministry.

250px-Ashcross It was also common for believers who were returning to the church to be re-admitted on the Easter Sunday.  They would traditionally make a full confession of their sins before beginning lent, and would make a mark of an Ash Cross on their forehead to symbolise their repentance.  Again, members of the early church chose to do the same thing, and began signing themselves with a Cross of Ash to symbolise that they also needed to repent and return to the Lord.

This is the origin of Ash Wednesday, where believers may choose to have a cross of Ash imposed on their forehead as a reminder of their decision to turn from sin, and follow Christ.  Tonight I will be attending an Ash Wednesday service at my church, and will be beginning a time of Lenten discipline. 

I will not be talking about Lent, or my journey, on this blog, because for those who do not follow it, it might be pretty boring.  Instead, I will be doing a daily post on my other site, FISH for Lent.

It would be great if you came over and visited me there.

1 comment:

Say Hoo Ha Ha!