Ash Wednesday is a holy day on the church calendar, bringing in the season of Lent, which leads up to Easter weekend. During this season, Christians focus on penance, fasting, and preparing for the weight and glory of Easter.
Church services on Ash Wednesday focus on penance and fasting. Ashes are often put on the forehead during Ash Wednesday services to symbolize the reality that God made us from dust and one day we will return to dust, before the final resurrection. This website provides more background in the Catholic church about Ash Wednesday.
What is Lent?
Lent is 40 days spent preparing our hearts for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It observes Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness at the beginning of his earthly ministry. Christians focus on what Jesus has done for us, preparing our hearts and minds for the weight and glory of Easter.
At the end of Lent, Christians celebrate Jesus’ death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday). These 40 days of Lent focus us on the weight of our sin, the intimacy of God coming to earth, the humility of Jesus’ death on the cross, and prepare us for the joy and celebration of Easter. Death is swallower in Life!
Christians celebrate Lent in many different ways:
- CHURCH SERVICES. This article (2018) highlights some things in the Florence area specifically, quoting Rev. Donald R. Hayes from Christ Church with this simple and profound explanation of Lent: “Christians use the 40 days of Lent to prepare themselves spiritually, humbly and remorsefully to receive and accept Jesus Christ in a more full relationship.”
- FASTING. Many Christians give up something during these 40 days in order to intentionally focus on what Jesus has sacrificed for us. You could fast from ice cream, eating meat, watching television, social media, or more.
- DEVOTIONALS & SCRIPTURE. Read through the Gospels or use a devotional to guide your reflections and prayers during this season. She Reads Truth has a Lent 2018 daily reading plan that you may find helpful.