For many Christians the world over, today is not just a regular Wednesday in February. Today marks forty days (not counting Sundays) until Easter Sunday, when we celebrate Christ’s glorious resurrection. It is commonly known as Ash Wednesday, and for Christians who observe Lent, it begins a period of moderation, which can include fasting, repentance, and a focus on growing spiritually.
Why is it called Ash Wednesday?
Though Ash Wednesday and Lent have ancient roots and a strong Biblical basis they are never specifically mentioned in the Bible. The rituals surrounding Ash Wednesday were likely first held by the early Christian Church sometime in the 11th century CE. There are several passages on which Lent and Ash Wednesday have been based, such as the Book of Daniel which links fasting to ashes, leading some Christian scholars to believe this is the origin of the Lenten practice of Ash Wednesday.
An invitation to us all!
For anyone who seeks spiritual growth with a fast, it can feel like a time of sadness or morning. Perhaps it's the sacrifice of morning coffee or reflecting on the rejection of the Savior by His people, but it doesn't need to be joyless. These forty days provide us all a chance for growth and renewal of our faith which is crowned with Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday. You needn't observe Lent to set your focus on growing closer to God. Use this period as a time when you actively focus on turning away from sin and towards Christ, our Savior.
Consider Paul’s gratitude and elation as recorded in Philippians 3:8-11,
"What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead."
We can become like Christ, who is the light of the world! How amazing is that?!! We challenge you to use this period to find joy and to spread joy. We challenge you to be a joyful Christian. To let every interaction you have with another person come from a place of love and joy, so that the light of Christ may shine through you and onto others.
In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing tips on how you can use this time as we prepare for Christ’s resurrection to find joy and to be joyful. Let’s prepare for Easter together!