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Starting the Journey

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which marked the start of Lent. We began our journey toward Easter. Ash was placed on our foreheads as a sign of remembrance, showing others our belief in Christ. It usually is in the shape of a cross, reminding us of our sin and that Jesus died on the cross for us.

According to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the ashes symbolize several things:

  • Ashes remind us of God's condemnation of sin, as God said to Adam, "Dust you are and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19).
  • Ashes suggest cleansing and renewal. Even on Ash Wednesday, this most penitential day, we receive ashes in the form of the cross, the same symbol placed on our bodies with water in our baptism.
  • Ashes remind us of the shortness of human life, for it is said as we are buried into the ground, "We commit this body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 284).
  • Ashes are a symbol of our need to repent, confess our sins, and return to God.

But you shouldn’t just attend an Ash Wednesday service and go about your daily life until Palm Sunday and Easter. At Salem, we have Unfailing Light every Wednesday night, which creates an intimate space for prayer, lament, and healing as we journey through Lent together. Some choose to give something up for Lent, such as alcohol, chocolate, or meat.

According to The Lutheran Witness, “Giving up some small pleasure for Lent, like chocolate or coffee, can be a nice way to remind ourselves throughout Lent that it is Lent. When we reach out for those things we remember that we are denying ourselves in commemoration of Our Lord’s suffering.”

During the time of Lent, we remember that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting and resisting temptation. Just as Jesus faced temptation, so do we. Some choose to fast from lunch and use that time to pray and read the scripture. It is a good time to reflect on yourself and see how you can improve your relationship with Christ.

Ash Wednesday is only the start of the journey. How you choose to spend the next 40 days is up to you.

Shari Van Baale
Salem Communications Coordinator

Tags: Weekly Word