What is Lent/Ash Wednesday

This is part of a painting from the late 17th century that was dedicated for the season of Lent/Ash Wednesday. The inscription reads: “All skulls are signed but one; write your name on it, it is yours.” We don’t like to think about death and dying. Though the world around us and our own sinful nature only downplay sin and its effects, Lent shows us the grim reality of our sin, its damaging and damning consequences, and its deserved wages not only in this life but also in the life to come. 

But Lent is also Jesus (look at the cross in bottom-middle of the painting). Lent shows God’s grace and mercy in action as he sent his only-begotten Son for us. On Calvary we see Jesus pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our guilt. There he shed his innocent blood to give us peace. He suffered what we deserved so we have eternal life—the gift of God’s grace. There he was wounded so we’d be healed. There Christ paid for the sins of the whole world. There Christ paid for your sins!

During the worship service tonight (the start of Lent) we will also observe the imposition of ashes. This, too, is a centuries-old custom (we know it’s at least 1,000 years old). The purpose is to have a visual reminder that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and death means our bodies return to the dust from which Adam was made (Genesis 3:19).  As ashes are biblical pictures of repentance (Job 42:6; Matthew 11:21), the use of ashes eventually became associated with Lent, a penitential season of the church year. But the ashes are formed in the shape of a cross, to remind us that though we will all die, we are also redeemed through the sacrifice of the one who died for us (I Corinthians 15:22). 

See you tonight at 7pm.