View Mobile Site

Recognizing the Lenten season

Posted: March 6, 2014 5:02 p.m.
Updated: March 7, 2014 5:00 a.m.

As a child I will never forget getting the opportunity to participate in the worship service on Palm Sunday. For most congregations it is customary to have the children of the church come into the sanctuary waving palm branches at some point during the service to help give everyone a visual of the great celebration that Jesus experienced as he made His entry into Jerusalem the week of his crucifixion. As much as I love the celebration that surrounds Palm Sunday and Easter, we as believers do ourselves a disservice if we don’t also understand just what it is we are celebrating on Palm Sunday and Easter. We can’t celebrate the new life and resurrection if we do not first make ourselves available to death.

The Season of Lent is a way that the church, for centuries, reminds itself each year of the death and suffering of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Lent begins with a solemn observance called "Ash Wednesday."

For those who worship in a Protestant-Evangelical tradition, recognizing the Lenten season may be new. Our Catholic and Mainline Protestant brothers and sisters have been celebrating this season for centuries. Honestly, it was a season that I did not recognized until I began to attend college. However, since the church calendar has become a part of my journey I can honestly say that there is a discipline that is present in my journey that wasn’t there before. The Christian calendar is a great way to teach the younger generation the Faith and it enables us to have vivid reminders about the life of Christ and the importance of the church in our lives.

The ashes we receive on Ash Wednesday is a reminder of our mortality and a reminder of who God is. The ashes are also an outward sign that we are all in need of God’s grace because of the sinful nature in which we are all born with.

Perhaps, the ashes can be a sign of another great act of God. In Ezekiel 9:4, God gives the instruction, "…Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of those who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it." (Ezekiel 9:4, NRSV)

Q: Where did the tradition of Ash Wednesday come from?

It was traditional in ancient times for people engaged in special times of fasting, prayer, repentance, or remorse by rubbing ashes on their forehead as an outward symbol of what they are experiencing internally. This custom entered Christianity through Judaism, and Christians today may place ashes on their foreheads to mark the beginning of Lent. Ideally, one should use ashes from the burning of palm fronds from the previous year’s Easter celebrations.

Q: Why do Christians have their foreheads marked with a cross?

A: Because in the Bible a mark on the forehead is a symbol of a person’s ownership. By having their foreheads marked with the sign of a cross, this symbolizes that the person belongs to Jesus Christ, who died on a cross. This is in imitation of the spiritual mark or seal that was put on a Christian in baptism, being delivered from slavery to sin and the devil and made a slave of righteousness and Christ (Rom. 6:3-18).

This article was submitted by: Rev. David D. Snodgrass of Camden First Church of the Nazarene, and Rev. Angela R. Jennings of St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church.

Interested in viewing premium content?

A subscription is required before viewing this article and other premium content.

Already a registered member and have a subscription?

If you have already purchased a subscription, please log in to view the full article.

Are you registered, but do not have a subscription?

If you are a registed user and would like to purchase a subscription, log in to view a list of available subscriptions.

Interested in becoming a registered member and purchasing a subscription?

Join our community today by registering for a FREE account. Once you have registered for a FREE account, click SUBSCRIBE NOW to purchase access to premium content.

Membership Benefits

  • Instant access to creating Blogs, Photo Albums, and Event listings.
  • Email alerts with the latest news.
  • Access to commenting on articles.

Contents of this site are © Copyright 2014 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...