Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a 40-day period in the church calendar that culminates on Easter Sunday. This 40-day period in many church traditions is a time when Christians gather for corporate confession and individual repentance. At the end of the service, priests, pastors, or church leaders place ashes, in the sign of the cross, on the forehead of believers while saying “from dust you have come, to dust you will return.”
This symbolic act reminds Christians that one’s physical body is temporal, while the spirit is eternal. Ash Therefore, a Christian is asked to reflect on his or her relationship with God and possibly set aside a habit or a pleasure for 40 days to help one focus on Jesus, his sacrifice on our behalf, and on his commands to worship God and love and serve others.
In the years immediately following the death and resurrection of Jesus, believers began engaging in a time of focus on their sins and God’s forgiveness of those sins in advance of the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Like the Jewish celebration of Passover when celebrants remove yeast and all foods containing yeast, Lent was a time of removing certain foods or pleasures so one could concentrate on God.
If you would like to know Jesus, the son of God who came to earth to die for your sins, and defeated death when he rose from the grave, there is no better time than now. Today you can join millions of Christians around the world during this Lenten season in drawing close to the God who created you and wants you to experience abundant life. You can learn more at our post: How Does One Become a Christian.