When most people think of Ash Wednesday and Lent, if they've even heard of it at all, it is as something that is observed by Catholics, Anglicans or Lutherans.
In the United Methodist Church, we also observe Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent that follow.
I've shared before about Shrove Tuesday --aka Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday -- and the fact that it is actually a Christian tradition.
Tonight, we celebrated Shrove Tuesday by having pancakes with our church family
before our Ash Wednesday service.
before our Ash Wednesday service.
The United Methodist Men in our church made the pancakes and there were awesome.
We had decadent pancakes.
Pancakes with a lot of toppings to choose from.
strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, whipped cream and butter and syrup of course.
Everyone loved them......
I've also shared the meaning of Ash Wednesday and Lent in my own words here.
Basically, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent which is the Christian season before Easter. The 40 days ( not including Sundays because every Sunday is a mini - Easter) between Ash Wednesday and Easter make up the season of Lent. It is a season where we prepare for the Easter to come.
Our Ash Wednesday service is always the beginning of this preparation and is a time for us to begin doing some real self examination and reflection and a time of self-denial to prepare for Easter to come.
It is a very moving service every year.
A very convicting service.
Tonight, hubs spoke in the service of the 'stains' that are on us.
Those things that separate us from God.
The stains that Jesus took upon himself when he was nailed to the cross for us all those years ago.
We named those stains, nailed them on the cross and then kneeled at the altar to seek our Savior.
And then we had the ashes imposed on our foreheads as a reminder of the fact that we come from ashes and to ashes we will return. The ashes also remind us of how the people in the old testament mourned. They put ashes on their heads and tore there clothing. How fitting for us to impose ashes onto ourselves as we begin to prepare ourselves for the death of our Savior on Good Friday. As well as for this Ash Wednesday where we realize just how unworthy of His love that we are.
A reason to mourn for sure.
I named a few things and nailed them to that cross tonight.
Those are the things I plan to "give up" for Lent.
They are things that, when I allow them in my life, put a chasm between me and my Savior.
They are things that I have been too comfortable with lately.
Things I've felt entitled to in some ways.
I plan to work on giving those up.
And with HIS help, I will do so.
Thereby, eliminating the chasm that they create and preparing my heart to celebrate in a while new way what Easter stands for.
In our family, we are also "putting on" something new for Lent this year.
This morning we began family Lenten devotions.
In our church, we are doing a whole church study on The Last 24 Hours of Christ during this Lenten season.
The study begins this Sunday. There are to be several small groups doing the study during our Sunday School hour and throughout the week for our adults and our youth.
And we are even doing a children's version of the study on Sunday mornings.
Ken's sermons will also go along with the study each week.
I am so looking forward to this study.
Spending the next 6 weeks leading up to Easter fully focused on the last 24 hours of Jesus' life.
It is going to be incredible for all who participate -- I'm sure of it.
Do you observe Lent?
What are you doing in observance for Lent this year?
Lastly, I wanted to share two great articles I read regarding Lent today:
This one from Ann Voscamp about Why you may really need Lent this year.
And this one -- Right and Wrong Reasons to Give Something Up for Lent.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;