Ash Wednesday

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Img by Bro. Jeff Pioquinto

Today, many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are going to attend an Ash Wednesday service. At such a service, the priest or pastor will swipe ashes across the forehead of the believer in the form of a cross. This tradition comes from the early church (c.250 AD) when ashes and sackcloth were used to show penitence and sorrow for sins against God and the early church. The Roman Catholic Church began to observe Ash Wednesday 40 days prior to Easter to symbolize the 40 days of fasting and temptation Jesus experienced in the desert. 

I do believe that memorials are important! Humans are a forgetful lot and God himself instituted memorials for us to remember what He did (The Lord’s Supper, rocks on the banks of the Jordan). I also believe in fasting and prayer time. They are both mentioned in the Bible as profitable for spiritual growth (Joel 2:12-17) . What is not profitable: when people head to an Ash Wednesday service hoping to receive an extra measure of grace or special dispensation for their sins by having ashes wiped onto their forehead.  That hope is founded in anti-bibical principles because ashes don’t save you, Christ’s blood does.

As believers in Christ, we have been anointed by the blood of Christ and we need no other salvation or mark for the forgiveness of sins. There is no need for ashes on our foreheads after we have cried out to Jesus for forgiveness of sins and cleansing from them (Psalm 51:1-17). We need no one to smear our heads with ashes because Christ (who was our sacrificial lamb) now sits at God’s right hand to be our High Priest and intercede with God on our behalf (Hebrews 7:24-25). For believers, every day is a day to remember the cross, to repent of our sins, to ask the Holy Spirit to assist us in leading holy lives. No ashes necessary.

If you desire to participate in fasting or a personal ‘recommittal’ journey, Matthew 6 talks about doing it properly. It is not for show, nor for others to know how holy and righteous you are; it is a private affair of the heart between you and your Savior. So may the mind of Christ dwell richly in your lives, not just on Ash Wednesday, but every day!

May the mind of Christ my Savior, live in me from day to day,
by His love and pow’r controlling all I do and say.

May the word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour,
so that all may see I triumph only thru his pow’r.

{Kate B. Wilkinson}

 

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