BIBLE REFERENCE: Matthew 4:2, Mark 11:8-10
Before I began my fifth grade year, my parents made the decision to take me out of public school. Fourth grade had not been a very good year for me so I think my parents thought I needed a change. The change proved to be one of the highlights of my childhood ... four years at Catholic school. Catholicism fascinated me, especially every Wednesday when the school assembled in the sanctuary. It was on one particular Wednesday during the school year, the priest stuck his thumb in a bowl of ashes and made a cross on everyone's head that I could not quite figure out.
Lent is the season of the church year in which Christians celebrate Jesus' life, death and resurrection during a forty day period. The forty day period is based on the 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:2), Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting after his baptism. Satan knew Jesus was hungry and exhausted and proceeded to tempt Jesus to sin on three occasions, but of course Satan did not succeed.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. The ashes used by the priests are from last year's palm tree branches (Palm Sunday - Mark 11:8-10). Ashes in the bible were used synonymously with the word "sackcloth". These both were signs that a person was sorry for his or her sins or in mourning. Many times an individual would tear his clothes, throw ashes on their head, sit in the dust and wear a sackcloth as a physical sign to others of repentance or mourning. Some individuals in the bible who did this was Tamar (2 Samuel 13:19) and Job (Job 2:8).
Individuals of the Catholic faith as well as some Protestants fast on Ash Wednesday. The dictionary definition of fast is to eat only sparingly or of certain kinds of food, esp. as a religious observance. Checking back in the dictionary again, I looked up the term religious. It means being faithful and conscientious. That "faithful and conscientious" part is something I need to work on personally.
So often during the week, I know I need to spend more time with the Lord, but I always manage to let other things get in the way. If you are like me, during the season of Lent let's ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and to show us how to draw closer to Him. We may not physically have ashes on our foreheads or mourn as the Old Testament people did, but we can bend on our knees in prayer and repentance. Let's follow Jesus' example and get ready! It is only after we draw closer to the Lord, can we fulfill our work here on earth.
Psalms 51:17 -- The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, 0 God, you will not despise.
Tyora Moody is a professional web developer who enjoys dabbling in freelance writing. Her company Tywebbin Creations produces such websites as faithwebbin.net, doenetwork.com, kulturezone.com and goodgirlbookclubonline.com. This article is used by permission.