Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday's Word: Ash Wednesday

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_wednesday
Today marks the beginning of Lent- the season before Easter Sunday- when the church (particularly the Western church) remembers Christ's fasting and temptation in the wilderness for 40 days.  Historically, Christians mark Lent by fasting, repentance, and the seeking of and giving forgiveness.  All three are good practices for any season!  My church is having an early morning Ash Wednesday service and many people will be fasting- giving something up- whether food, time, or even the internet!- and using that time for more prayer, deeper repentance, and drawing near to God before the Easter season.


Here are a couple of Ash Wednesday texts I found:



Old Testament Reading


“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the LORD your God?
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O LORD,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
Then the LORD became jealous for his land
and had pity on his people.
         (Joel 2:12-18 ESV)


New Testament Reading


“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:1-6 ESV)


“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:16-18 ESV)

I still haven't decided what to "give up" for Lent (as of Sunday).  When I do, I won't tell you!  Whether you "fast" from anything (food or otherwise) or not, I hope you have a blessed Lent season-drawing near to the God Who longs to draw near to us and has "pity on His people".


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