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Wednesday
Mar012017

What’s that stuff on everyone’s forehead? It’s Ash Wednesday

AP

Article By EEW Magazine // Spiritual

Share If you're wondering what that smudge is on lots of people's foreheads, well, it's Ash Wednesday.

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten Season, which commemorates Jesus’ 40-day fasting and temptation in the wilderness, before beginning his public ministry, several years before He was crucified. 

On this day, some Christians mark their foreheads with ash as a symbol of sorrow and mourning over their sin. Often, Job 42:5-6 is used to express this type sorrow. He said, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Clergy worldwide burn palm from the previous year’s Palm Sunday services to create ash which is then rubbed across people’s foreheads in the shape of a cross.

DO I HAVE TO CELEBRATE LENTEN SEASON TO BE A CHRISTIAN?

Here's a confession. I grew up Pentecostal and the pastor at our small church never mentioned Lenten Season. I felt like a complete outcast and uninformed Christian when I relocated to another state and my new faith-filled community talked so freely about it. I was confused!

If you, like me, weren’t raised with the understanding of this sacred period of consecration, don’t worry. That doesn’t mean you don’t love God or you’re a “bad Christian” so-to-speak.

In fact, every Christian doesn’t celebrate Lent and there is no scriptural mandate. So you don't technically need to observe Lent to be a Christian. Yet, more than a billion Believers around the world, from various theological persuasions, do observe it as a way of focusing their thoughts on Jesus Christ, and that should always be respected.

HOW LONG DOES LENT LAST?

Although Lent is actually 46 days, Sundays are not included in the times of observance, so it's counted as 40 days. The exclusion of Sundays is because they are viewed as a time of joy and celebration, and are not prescribed as days of fasting and abstinence.

During this 40-day preparation leading up to Resurrection Sunday, Believers use it as a time of self-denial and self-examination. Through prayer, fasting, worship and meditation on God’s word, they get spiritually focused.

Observers of Lent usually give up certain indulgences like meat, soda, decadent desserts and other favorite foods—even social media. Also, effort is put forth to grow in faith and get rid of bad habits, and negative attributes that hinder spiritual growth.

It’s all about sacrifice and consecration.

If you do choose to participate in this 40-day period of consecration, make sure you’re not doing it out of a legalistic compulsion. It is a personal decision and not an obligation.

When it comes down to it, anything that will enhance your walk with the Savior and draw you into sweet communion with the Lord can’t be a bad thing.

RELATED: 5 ways to spend more time with God

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