On this Ash Wednesday, as we prepare to enter into a season of reflection it is important to not lose sight of what we’re marching towards. Within the liturgical calendar, the season of Lent is a time of preparation. In this season we look back over the last few months to the journey that began during the season of Advent.
In Advent, we celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But in Lent, we prepare ourselves to acknowledge and celebrate the reality of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is the fulfillment of promises and prophecies that God gave to his people from the moment they fell and were removed from the garden of Eden. On virtually every page of Scripture, we see the hand of God and we hear the voice of God through his messengers declaring the fulfillment of his ultimate redemption. A redemption that would bring to an end the sorrow and suffering that was brought into the world by sin.
The first day of the season of Lent is a time of reflecting upon the impact of sin in our lives. In particular, in those churches that have a service on Ash Wednesday, a particular practice has been used to mark both day and the believer. The use of ashes (which are made by burning the palm branches of the previous year) to signify that this life we lead on earth is transient and will eventually come to an end are imposed upon the foreheads of every believer.
The ashes are applied in the shape of a cross and the words “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” With these words, we are reminded we are mortal and that this life will eventually come to an end. However, the ending is merely a transition from life on this earth to life before God.
We rehearse and remember the reality of the Lenten season because we as a people have a propensity to forget. And it is in this forgetting that we should force ourselves to remember.Tweet
The season of Lent, which leads to the celebration of Easter morning, begins with a solemn service where we are called to remember that the weightiness of the season requires a seriousness of thought and reflection upon our lives. The celebration of Easter 40 days after Ash Wednesday should be a time of great rejoicing. After 40 days of reflection and meditation, we should be properly prepared to receive the glorious news that salvation has been purchased for us.
We might wonder why we believers who have already received the message of the gospel and the promises to which it signals should rehearse and repeat the season from year-to-year. I find that the reason is much simpler than we would care to admit. We rehearse and remember the reality of the Lenten season because we as a people have a propensity to forget. And it is in this forgetting that we should force ourselves to remember.
As we begin this season of the line I would encourage you to take some time to consider those areas of your lives where we all must surrender again our trust in our own abilities for a genuine confidence in Christ’s.