Ash Wednesday 2021
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent and Christians around the world honor Christ today. The imposition of ashes is not specifically mentioned in the Bible but the practice is very ancient and comes from the Old Testament.
Ashes were used in ancient times to express grief. When Tamar was raped by her half-brother, “she sprinkled ashes on her head, tore her robe, and with her face buried in her hands went away crying” (2 Samuel 13:19). The gesture was also used to express sorrow for sins and faults. In Job 42:5–6, Job says to God: “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” The prophet Jeremiah calls for repentance by saying: “O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes” (Jer. 6:26). The prophet Daniel recounted pleading to God: “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). Just prior to the New Testament period, the rebels fighting for Jewish independence, the Maccabees, prepared for battle using ashes: “That day they fasted and wore sackcloth; they sprinkled ashes on their heads and tore their clothes” (1 Maccabees 3:47; see also 4:39).
Jesus is quoted as speaking of the practice in Matthew 11:21 and Luke 10:13: “If the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”
The ashes symbolize our desire to repent of the sins of this world and submit ourselves to the path of our Lord. This Lenten season let us focus on our spiritual journey and rather than give up food, let us forsake spiritual laziness and fill our lives with the goodness of God’s word. Commit yourself to 15 minutes each day to read your Bible and each day ask God to give you wisdom and insight. If you are disciplined enough, keep a journal of the Lenten experience.
IF you want to know what to read, we are studying Romans in church on Sundays at 11:15 and 1 and 2 Thessalonians on Tuesday mornings at 7:30. Both of these are available via livestream and Facebook. www.wesleymemorial.net. Go to the livestream tab. All lessons have been recorded and you can watch when you are able.