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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Mortality, Humanity and Humility- Ash Wednesday.

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word."
--excerpt from T.S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday"

Not all Christian churches observe Ash Wednesday or Lent. The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent. Ash Wednesday, unknown in the Eastern Church, developed only in the West. But traditions of repentance and mourning in ashes date back at least to the time of 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3 in the Hebrew Bible; and Matthew 11:21 speaks about it.

Those of us who use Ash Wednesday to begin Lent find the 40-day season helpful in reconnecting us to the foundations of faith. We believe that Jesus began his public ministry at the age of 30 by being baptized and was immediately sent into a 40-day period of fasting and temptation. And the first Christians developed various devotional ways of remembering the days of Jesus' passion and resurrection. The Church created a variety of customs to prepare, many focused on the season of penitence and fasting. Ash Wednesday dates to at least the eighth century and appears in the Gregorian Sacramentary. Originally, Lent began on a Sunday, but to have the number of days of Lent correspond to the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness, Lent was eventually transferred to begin on a Wednesday.

Watch this video of "Ash Wednesday" I prepare just for you.

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