Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday.  What exactly is Ash Wednesday?  Well, this might be a simple question for you.  Maybe you know the answer to that question right away.  Unfortunately, I didn’t.  I never grew up giving much thought to Ash Wednesday. I didn’t even know it existed until I was in my twenties.  The short answer: Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.  That’s swell and all, but what is it really for and why do so many make a special trip to their church to get ashes on their forehead?

Here’s the longer, more educational version for us newbies who don’t know!

We know from scripture that Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and endured temptation from Satan (Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4).   That’s where we get the ’40 days’ of fasting from.  But pull out your calendar and count it up and you’ll see that it is actually 46 days.  This really confused me at first, but come to find out, you’re not suppose to count Sundays as a part of your fast.  Since Sunday is the Sabbath, we don’t count them as part of the fast, but actually see them as ‘feast’ days, in celebration of the Resurrection we will celebrate on Easter Sunday.

So, what’s up with the ashes on the forehead?  Well, it’s meant to be a sign of our human mortality.  We are not eternal.  We will die.  In the old testament we also see ashes used a lot in mourning.  This is meant to be a reminder for us to sit in repentance before God and  confess our need for a Savior to Him.  We should see the current state of our heart, our need and mourn.  So we take the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday and think on that.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season, so if you are fasting from something, you’d start doing that today.  Fasting brings on a whole new topic.  Have you ever fasted before?  As I mentioned earlier, it is a biblical thing to do.  The purpose is to set aside your personal preference for something (food, special drinks, media, Facebook, television, radio in the car, etc.) in an effort to focus your heart and mind on God.  Fasting requires self-control and discipline to deny our fleshly desires for something.  {Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, according to Galatians 5.  So hopefully as you fast and draw your heart towards prayer and Jesus, you will see the Holy Spirit working and walk in that instead of the flesh.}  In short, fasting is a way to draw our hunger towards God.  In times where we’re craving the thing(s) we’ve given up, our hearts are to be reminded to turn our craving to Jesus and have Him meet that need for us.

Are you fasting from anything this Lenten season?  What are you fasting from?

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Lent, Ash Wednesday & Easter | Moms Encouraging Moms

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