What Is Ash Wednesday?

In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day or the start of the season of Lent. It was initially called the “Day of Ashes.”

Ash Wednesday always falls 40 days before Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). Lent is a time when Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, giving up of sinful habits, and spiritual discipline.

Not all Christian churches observe Ash Wednesday and Lent. These commemorations are mostly kept by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterianand Anglican denominations, and also by Roman Catholics.

Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sundaywith fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Orthodox Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday (called Clean Monday) and Ash Wednesday is not observed.

The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.

What Do the Ashes Signify? 

During Ash Wednesday mass or services, a minister distributes ashes by lightly rubbing the shape of a cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers. The tradition of tracing a cross on the forehead is meant to identify the faithful with Jesus Christ.

Ashes are a symbol of death in the Bible. God formed humans out of dust:

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. (Genesis 2:7, Human beings return to dust and ashes when they die:

“By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19, NLT)

Speaking of his human mortality in Genesis 18:27, Abraham told God, “I am nothing but dust and ashes.” The prophet Jeremiah described death as a “valley of dead bones and ashes” in Jeremiah 31:40. So, the ashes used on Ash Wednesday symbolize death.

Many times in Scripture, the practice of repentance is also associated with ashes. In Daniel 9:3, the prophet Daniel clothed himself in sackcloth and sprinkled himself in ashes as he pleaded with God in prayer and fasting. In Job 42:6, Job said to the Lord, “I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

When Jesus saw towns full of people reject salvation even after he’d performed so many of his miraclesthere, he denounced them for not repenting:

“What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse.” (Matthew 11:21, NLT)

Speaking of his human mortality in Genesis 18:27, Abraham told God, “I am nothing but dust and ashes.” The prophet Jeremiah described death as a “valley of dead bones and ashes” in Jeremiah 31:40. So, the ashes used on Ash Wednesday symbolize death.

Many times in Scripture, the practice of repentance is also associated with ashes. In Daniel 9:3, the prophet Daniel clothed himself in sackcloth and sprinkled himself in ashes as he pleaded with God in prayer and fasting. In Job 42:6, Job said to the Lord, “I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

When Jesus saw towns full of people reject salvation even after he’d performed so many of his miraclesthere, he denounced them for not repenting:

“What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse.” (Matthew 11:21, NLT)

Thus, ashes on Ash Wednesday at the start of the Lenten season represent our repentance from sin and Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death to set us free from sin and death.

By

A Season of Change

This is a season of change for the world, so why can’t it be a season of change for you and for me?

A time where we shed the dead leaves to make room for new ones in the spring.

So, this week, I challenge you, take a moment, and ask yourself, “what dead leaves do I have in my life?”

As you begin to shed them, you may feel bare like a tree in the fall, but remember that God will fill you up with so much good and new when it comes spring!

Happy Monday!! Have a great week! And feel free to drop you dead leaves here in the comments! ❤️🍂🍃

Wisdom Owls Bible Craft

What you’ll need:

Supplies Needed

Instructions:

  1. Flatten the toilet paper tube and cut curves on each side to create the wings of the owl (pictured below).
  2. To create the head, press and fold the top of the tube, first from the back, then from the front. Fold out the wings
  3. Using the white paint pen, draw two circles for eyes and one large one for the belly. Let it dry.
  4. Finish by using the black marker to draw on the pupils, eye brows, beak, and Bible verse.
  5. (Optional) Decorate your wisdom owls with more paint pens, acrylic paints, watercolors, or anything else your creative heart desires!
Create The Wings
Decorate

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is a Christian holiday that is celebrated on the Sunday before Easter.

Palm Sunday is considered a “moveable feast.” Moveable feasts are a fixed number of days before or after Easter Sunday. Easter varies by 35 days depending on the placement of the moon, and must be computed each year. Palm Sunday is celebrated the Sunday before Easter regardless of the date.

The Christian feast commemorates Jesus’ triamphal entry into Jerusalem; an event that is mentioned in all four of the carnonical gospels of the Holy Bible. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.

The feast is celebrated in different ways throughout the world. In Greece the tradition is to eat on the last day of their Lent Celebration, which is Palm Sunday. Their dinner consists of bakaliaros, which is salt cod fish. Certain parts of Italy serve homemade pasta topped with tomato sauce, bread crumbs and nuts. Since Jesus was known to have eaten figs on his way into Jerusalem, Great Britain celebrates by serving fig pudding on Palm Sunday. In Northern England and Scotland, split pea soup is a tradition that comes from their practice of wearing a hard pea in their shoe as a penance during Lent. The UK has customs dating clear back to the 1500’s! After Palm Sunday Service they hand out pax cakes and offer best wishes for peace and brotherhood. If you would like to make Pax Cakes this year here is the recipe for you:

Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey which symbolizes arriving in peace. Unlike a King who enters riding a horse and waging war upon the crowd. Jesus came in peace.

As Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem the crowd scattered palm branches in front of Him and the colt that He had traveled on.

Jesus stopped in the middle of the crowd and stepped off of His horse. People placed their cloaks on the donkey and the colt and then Jesus sat back down. The crowd of people then placed their cloaks on the ground and sat down around Jesus. And the people without cloaks pulled palm leaves to sit on so that they could hear about the Messiah.

The people that went ahead of Jesus and the people that walked behind Him into Jerusalem continued to shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mathew 21:7-9) And this is how Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

So whatever your Palm Sunday celebrations consists of make it a joyous celebration!

Happy Palm Sunday 🍃

St. Valentine

Flowers, candy, red hearts and romance. That’s what Valentine’s day is all about, right? Well, maybe not.

The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t romantic at all—at least not in the traditional sense. Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, tells the real story of the man behind the holiday—St. Valentine.

“He was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudias who persecuted the church at that particular time,” Father O’Gara explains. ” He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.”

“I think we must bear in mind that it was a very permissive society in which Valentine lived,” says Father O’Gara. “Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. And yet some of them seemed to be attracted to Christian faith. But obviously the church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged. And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church of what to do about this.”

“The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them because of the edict.”

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second. There are legends surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison.

“One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result.”

In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine.”

“What Valentine means to me as a priest,” explains Father O’Gara, “is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that —even to the point of death.”

Valentine’s martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage and memory of this Christian saint.

“Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage you want some sense of God in your life—some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ.”

“If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time where you’re going to have to suffer. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?”

“So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context,” Father O’Gara says. “Love—human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God—but also the shadow of the cross. That’s what Valentine means to me.”

By David Kithcart