“At the heart of the Christian faith is our participation in the life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension
of Jesus Christ as Lord…. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are delivered from sin
and death, and by the Holy Spirit we are born into eternal life with God. This we confess; this we must renew
continually in our worship and in our lives” (H. L. Hickman and et. al, The New Handbook of the Christian
Year, 1992, p.105).

As we enter with great expectation and anticipation the Lenten Season-beginning March 6, we are reminded
of this statement: “This we must confess; this we must renew continually in our worship. Further,
we are reminded of the early Christians observing with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion
and resurrection. This observance was enunciated clearly in the Book of Joel 2:12-18. This part of the
Book of Joel is used as a text during what we call the: “Week of Ash Wednesday,” which is the beginning of
the season of Lent. Prophet Joel’s invitation is clear: “Let you heart show your sorrow.” And to manifest
what we are to observe this season of Lent, we incorporated in our Liturgical Celebration the use of ashes as
a sign of mortality and repentance.

In the Old Testament times, people used ashes in a variety of religious ways. For example, 2 Samuel
13:19 tells how a woman who had been raped sprinkled ashes on her head as a sign of grief. Jeremiah 6:26
tells how people rolled in ashes as a sign of mourning. And Job 42:6 mentions the custom of sprinkling ashes
on oneself as a sign of repentance.

Jesus referred to this latter practice in New Testament times. Speaking to some people, he said: “If the
miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have
long ago put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on themselves, to show that they had turned from their
sins!” (Matthew 11:21).

Each year on Ash Wednesday, we mark our foreheads with ashes. We do this for two reasons.
First, ashes are sign of repentance. They indicate that we are sorry for our sins and do penance for them
during Lent. This explains why the minister may say, when he marks us with ashes, “Repent, and believe the
gospel.” Second, ashes are sign of our mortality. They indicate that we will die someday. To understand
this second sign, recall that right after Adam and Eve sinned, God said to them: “Because of what you have
done… you (will) go back to the soil from which you were formed. You were made from soil (dust), and you
will become soil (dust) again” Genesis 3:17, 19. This explains why the minister may also say, when he marks
us with ashes, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
During this Season of Lent, we are reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of
our Lord and at the same time challenges us to renew our faith. Let us engage ourselves to faithfully observe
our own “Holy Lent:” by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, self-denial and by reading and
meditating on the Word of God.

This great Season of Grace is God’s gift to our faith community to renew us in spirit. God give us strength
to purify our hearts, to control our desires, and so to serve Him in freedom. God teaches us how to live in this
passing world with our hearts set on the world that will never end.

Pastor Gideon

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