Lent/Ash Wednesday


What Is Ash Wednesday?


On February 14 at 7:00pm you are invited to participate in the Ash Wednesday service at Living Water. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of the Church year called “Lent.” Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter (excluding Sundays) where we consider Jesus journey to the cross for us with repentant hearts, baptismal remembrance, and perhaps spiritual disciplines (such as fasting to allow extra time for prayer and Scripture reading, “fasting” from spending in one or more areas of your life and giving to those in need, private confession and absolution, or a devotional focus on the sufferings and death of Christ). 

The unique part of an Ash Wednesday service is the imposition of ashes. Participating in this ritual is voluntary. You may also choose to receive ashes on your forehead, on your hand or not at all. All ages are welcome to participate. Here is a description of the significance of the imposition of ashes and from our denomination’s website:

Worshipers will have the opportunity to receive ashes on their foreheads as a sign of penitence and baptismal remembrance. The ashes are prepared by burning palm branches from last Palm Sunday. In a dramatic way, their use suggests God’s judgment and condemnation of sin, our frailty and total dependence on God, and humiliation and repentance. The words spoken as ashes are imposing, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” were first spoken to Adam after his fall into sin [Gen. 3:19]. We are forcefully reminded of the words of the committal in the Christian Burial service, “... earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Ashes also suggest cleansing and renewal. They were once used as a cleaning agent. Thus, ashes imposed in the shape of a cross symbolize both judgment and baptismal cleansing (LCMS.org).

One Lutheran pastor has written the following about Ash Wednesday:

In our age of Botox and our culture’s pursuit of perpetual youth ashes made in the sign of the holy cross + are a good reminder we are mortal; and in Christ that is ok; we will live …

The Scriptures frequently proclaim the use or imposition of ashes … daughter of my people, put on sackcloth, and roll in ashes… (Jeremiah 6:26)  … and shout aloud over you and cry out bitterly. They cast dust on their heads and wallow in ashes;… (Ezekiel 27:30). The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes… (Jonah 3:6). And then from Jesus himself: Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matthew 11:21).

Though the imposition of ashes may be new to some people … it is Biblical … [and] helpful. When the ash mark sits on our forehead we feel marked because, well, we are marked. The ashes designate that we are real sinners and this is something the world refuses to hear.

The prophet Ezekiel placed a mark upon the foreheads of the faithful in his day so that they lived (Eze. 9:4). In addition to marking us as sinners, ashes made in the sign of the + cross proclaim that our hope and confidence rest in Christ the crucified who rose on the third day for the forgiveness of our sins. And because of this we live! (Rev. Dr. Karl Weber)

We hope that you can join us for Ash Wednesday at Living Water. If you have any further questions about it or our practice of observing it, please contact Pastor Vern Koehlinger at 623-266-1835.



  September 2018  
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