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Ash Wednesday

February 24, 2007

Well,I had to work late on Wednesday, so I missed my church’s Ash Wednesday service. I was a little dissapointed, but Denise and the girls got to go. Our church participates in the historical practice of placing ashes on the forehead. That would have been interesting – I’ve never had the chance of doing that before.

While most people associate the placing of ashes on the forehead as a Roman Catholic Church (RCC) practice, this is not entirely true. Other denominations have historically done this, but have unfortunately moved away from it. Although this is a whole subject by itself, most Protestant churches have stopped many of the practices that the RCC does because they do not want to be associated with the RCC. While it is true that the RCC was a corrupt church, and many of their beliefs and practices should not be held in the Protestant church, unfortunately, all the good stuff was thrown out as well – the baby with the bathwater, so to speak. The placing of ashes on the forehead is a good way to make the reality of our sin and the sorrow of our Lord’s crucifixition even more real to us.

The observance of Ash Wednesday goes back to the early church. Ash Wednesday, as I noted in a previous blog, is the first day of Lent. Lent is a time of sorrow, remorse, and repentance. We remember and grieve over our sins in anticipation of the perfect Lamb that was sacrificed for these sins. In biblical times, wood fires were heavily relied on for cooking and heating. It required a lot of attention to keep the home free from ashes. If the members of the house were preoccupied with something serious – say the death of a family member – the ashes would settle on them. This is how ashes became associated with sorrow, and this is why Christians place ashes on their foreheads for Ash Wednesday.

Many churches only celebrate the “happy” Christian holidays – like Christmas and Easter. While these are important, it is also important to remember the sad events as well. It is good to join Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, watching and praying on Maundy Thursday. It is good to weep at the foot of the cross on Good Friday. And it is good to join Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days of Lent. Of course, none of these things are required Christian observances – you’re not a bad Christian if you don’t place ashes on your forehead. But I do think that we have placed a wide chasm between the spiritual realities of God and the physical realities of God, when there is no designed separation. We need to physically and spiritually grieve, and we need to physically and spiritually rejoice. After all, when Jesus broke the bread, He didn’t say, “This is like my body, take and eat.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2007 9:07 am

    Very interesting and informative info Brian – good stuff!!! Hey, what church do you guys go to? Just curious since they are doing many things that most Protestant churches do not. Is it SBC? Oh, and we want to see some updates (with pictures and/or videos) of the girls…….Erin

  2. March 11, 2007 9:12 am


    Hey! We really enjoy the pics on ya’lls site. I plan on putting up a lot more pics. Unfortunately we don’t own a digital camera yet. When we scraped up enough money for a nice camera a while back, we chose the fancy 35 mm. We have taken a number of pics with my parents digital – we just went to the zoo last week – but we keep forgetting to bring it home with us and downloading them. We do have Shutterfly – I think ya’ll do too – so as we send in our pics, I’ll figure out how to link it to the blog…. You might have to help me, though 🙂

    BTW, we attend Trinity Presbyterian Church –
    It is part of a denomination called the CREC – Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches –

  3. March 19, 2007 8:37 pm


    the Taylor’s are budding “lenters.” We celebrate it with candles and devotionals, but no ashes yet. Also, for lent I have decided to lay aside my heavy drug use. Kidding….



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