Ash Wednesday 2019

Hello Church family and friends I am jacked up, fired up, excited and eager for Ash Wednesday to arrive and begin the 2019 season of Lent. God is always working and moving but for some reason, my senses are more heightened and aware of God’s presence during the Lenten season. I suspect some of you share my anticipation as you have experienced significant spiritual growth and grown closer to Jesus during the season that leads us toward the celebration of Easter. Others of you are shaking your head in wonder, because your experience of lent is an unwanted substance that requires a sticky roller to remove it from your clothes. At best, Lent for you is a self-defeating period of time that you attempt to refrain from indulging in a favorite pleasure or vice. For those who love the Lenten season and for those who are mystified by the idea, here are a few facts about this Christian season:

  • Lent is the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by various churches as a focused season of prayer and fasting.
  • Why 40 days, excluding Sundays? 40 is a symbolic biblical number. Noah was on the Ark 40 days. Moses and Israel wandered in the wilderness 40 years. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before beginning his ministry.
  • The tradition of Lent goes back at least to the year 325 A.D. during the Council of Nicea. It began as a Roman Catholic tradition but has sense spread into many protestant denominations.
  • Lent comes from the Middle English word “lencten” which means lengthening of days or springtime.
  • Lent begins on Ash Wednesday with the marking of the ashen cross on the believer. The ashes are traditionally from the burned palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday. The ashen cross represents our mortality and repentance from our sins.
  • During Lent, fasting, bible reading, prayer and acts of service are encouraged to be practiced with a rigorous discipline.
  • The giving up of a simple pleasure or vice for 40 days is connected to the discipline of fasting. Originally, Roman Catholics could not eat meat from any warm blooded animals during Lent. Today Catholics just can’t eat meat on Fridays. Protestants commonly give up things like coffee, cokes, chocolate, TV, social media and other little vices.
  • The purpose of fasting is to become more Christ Centered.
  • Historically, lent was a time of training for new believers who were preparing to be baptized on Easter Sunday.

To maximize the impact of this Holy season, formulate a plan on how you are going to become more Christ Centered. Begin with receiving the Ashen Cross on Ash Wednesday, then decide the spiritual disciplines you are going to practice, when and for how long.

For example, I am going to spend an hour each day reading scripture and praying, that has nothing to do with message preparation. That means I am doubling my morning time spent with God. That will include giving up reading the news while I eat breakfast so I can read more scripture. I am also going to make an intentional effort to practice what we learn during our Lent prayer message series, “Now Connected.” I am going to write out my prayers in my journal Monday through Friday and on the weekend as the opportunity presents itself.

Whatever you do, formulate a plan and then tell someone so you are held accountable. Receive the Ashen Cross on Wednesday, March 6. Join a Small Group and go deeper in content and practice what is taught in the weekend message. Follow us on Facebook because we intend to post prayers during Lent to enhance you’re your time spent with God. Parents, follow our Family Ministry Facebook page for creative ideas to include your kids in whatever disciplines you choose to practice during Lent.

I am praying for you, please pray for me. I am looking forward to seeing you on Ash Wednesday and next weekend as we begin our new prayer message series, “Now Connected.”

Rick

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