Ash Wednesday Prayer Service

By | February 19, 2009

This Wednesday, February 25, at 7am, we’ll have a morning prayer service to begin Ash Wednesday. The location is Mike Gehrling’s apartment at 5562 Hobart St.

Ash Wednesday is the first day in the Church’s season of Lent. Lent is meant to be a “penitential season,” a time in which we humble ourselves, confess our sins, and focus on our need for a savior. Lent continues for 40 days (not counting Sundays) and culminates with Holy Week (the week we celebrate Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil – check this site again soon for explanations of these days. This is meant to prepare us for the celebration Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday, and the season of Easter which lasts for the subsequent 40 days.

Our Ash Wednesday prayer service is meant to start us off in this time of reflection and prayer. There are two elements to the Ash Wednesday prayer service that make it unique from other worship services.

The first element is called the “Imposition of Ashes.” This refers to the practice of placing ashes on our forehead in the sign of the cross. This is a reference back to an ancient practice of remorse described in the Old Testament. In the book of Job, Job mourns the death of his family and the destruction of his belongings by sitting in and covering himself in ashes. In the book of Jonah, the Ninevites do the same thing to express their repentance. Ashes symbolize our mortality and frailty (“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:19). We’ll place the ashes on our forehead and wear them for the rest of the day as a sign-act of our regret for the wrongs that we have done and the systemic injustice we have participated in.

The second element is an “Invitation to Practice Lenten Disciplines.” Christians through the ages have often taken up specific, more intense, spiritual disciplines during the season of Lent. Often times it’s been a form of fasting from food (usually either giving up meat for the entire season, practicing complete fasts on Wednesday and Fridays in Lent, or a combination of the two). Other Christians choose to give something else up, often something that is or leads to a vice for them. Someone struggling with materialism or consumerism may give up shopping or use of a credit card. Someone struggling with lust and addiction to pornography may give up use of the internet. Others, rather than giving something up, may add something to their life. Some feel convicted to pray more and will commit to praying at the same time every day for all of Lent. Others may feel the need to practice more acts of compassion, and may commit to give more of their time or money to a mission organization. The possibilities are many, and our Ash Wednesday prayer service will conclude with a time of silent reflection for us all to think about and commit to a “Lenten Discipline” that God is calling each of us to do.

So, we hope you will join us this Wednesday, February 25, at 7am for our Ash Wednesday Prayer Service. The service will be taking place at Mike Gehrling’s apartment at 5562 Hobart St (the Wendover Building). The service will end by 7:40am. Those needing to leave earlier to get to work are more than welcome to leave early. For more information, call Mike at (412) 592-9094.