Why Ash Wednesday?

photo 3I’m writing over at The Annesley Writers Forum today talking about Ash Wednesday and how it relates to Lent and why I observe these church holidays.

On March 5th, millions of people worldwide will go into dimly lit rooms where they will stand in line so a priest or pastor can wipe oily ashes on their forehead and say, “From dust you’ve come to dust you shall return.”  If you’re not familiar with the broader context of Ash Wednesday, this tradition it might seem creepy and a little morbid.

But about 10 years ago, in a small church in downtown Portland, those ashes were placed on my forehead for the first time. I remember feeling connected to a movement much bigger than me and bigger than the local church where I was observing Ash Wednesday.  As we prayed the prayers, responsively read, and as the ashes were imposed, I felt like I was connected with the millions of believers who were observing Ash Wednesday all over the world and with the believers who, for hundreds of years, had done the same thing in their local churches.

As I’ve journeyed into more liturgical experiences I find the rhythms of mourning and rejoicing, waiting and celebrating to be incredibly honest and liberating.   Quite often Christians focus on the hope of the cross and the joy it should bring but hesitate to experience the mourning, anger, hurt and disgust that necessitate the ongoing work of the cross in our lives.  Lent encourages us to feel a full range of emotions and, in doing so, our view of reality shifts and our relationship with God deepens…

Read more here.

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