Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of the season of Lent.
As Christians, we believe that the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the most important thing to ever happen to us (or to the world for that matter)! God loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us, to redeem us from our sins, and to restore us back to a life with God. Just as Advent is a time of preparation for the miraculous birth of Christ, so Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. In Lent, we are on a pilgrimage with Christ. We are walking through His forty days in the wilderness and we end with His crucifixion, burial and finally, we gloriously celebrate His resurrection.
We start Lent with a very special service - Ash Wednesday. On Ash Wednesday, the Body of Christ gathers to enter this time of devotion corporately. During the service, we look at our own mortality and the consequences of our sins. Traditionally, in the Bible, times of penitence were marked by the wearing of sackcloth and ashes. At the Ash Wednesday service, the forehead of each believer is marked with ashes in the sign of the cross and we are reminded through these ashes that we are “but dust and to dust we shall return” (Genesis 3:19). These are the very words God spoke to Adam and Eve after they committed the first sin
+Lent is marked by prayer, fasting, and the giving of alms to those in need. We use the time for introspection, self-examination, and repentance. It is a time to prepare our hearts for the amazing work of God’s redemption on Easter.
+Throughout Lent, you see the color purple everywhere. Purple symbolizes Christ’s suffering and his royalty. You might notice that all crosses and icons are covered or veiled by purple cloth, that flowers are removed from the church, and that no more Alleluias are said until Easter day. This is all done to remind us of the suffering of Jesus and the consequences of our sins.
+During Lent, Christians try to fast from anything “of the flesh” which means that meat, cheese, eggs, butter, and milk are eliminated from the diet. Christians also abstain from consuming alcohol. And then, in addition to this corporate fast, the individual chooses an additional thing to give up such as sugar, sweets, coffee, or tv.
+All of these things we do because we believe, as Paul said in Philippians 3:10, that “we want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death."