Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Season of Lent. Around the world Christians begin preparing for the journey to the cross, and the resurrection on Easter Sunday. The next forty days is a period of contemplation, repentance, and often fasting.
Traditions vary, many will receive the sign of the cross on their forehead as an outward sign of our sorrow and repentance. Traditionally, the ashes coming from palm branches burned after the previous Palm Sunday.
As I think I mentioned yesterday, I didn’t grow up in a tradition of Mardi Gras or Lent. Many years ago, while we lived in Washington our church did observe the season (sans ashes). One, and I’m pretty sure it was the year I was still in radiation treatments, we began with an early morning prayer service on Ash Wednesday. Nails were passed out as a reminder that we were on the journey to the cross.
I wore mine on a string around my neck. All was fine until I was planning an event at the White House and had to explain to security. I guess it was a matter of spreading the Gospel, using words when necessary. That morning, they were.
I have not decided what, if anything I’m giving up for Lent. I am planning to take the next forty days (technically 47 since Sundays are “feast” days) and read through the four Gospels. This is not one of the years when I’m reading through the entire Bible, so I think this will be good discipline. And, I might learn a thing or two.
It’s good to have these times in our lives when we pause and reflect. What’s important? What’s significant? And, of course to remember Who is important and Who is significant.
The journey continues.