Where did Ash Wednesday come from?
I'm glad you asked. :)
Ash Wednesday has its origins in the early Christian Church – somewhere between the sixth and eight centuries. Originally, the idea was that a Christian, as a sign of repentance, would sprinkle ashes on his or her head. In the Bible, ashes were always associated with humility and mortality, fasting and remorse. If you had sinned against God, and you felt remorse about that sin, and you were repenting of that sin, then sometimes, in the Bible, you would sprinkle ashes on your head as a sign of sorrow and repentance. Ashes were supposed to remind you that you were mortal, that you will eventually become ashes after you die. We’re only ashes, and we need to repent of our sins now while God gives us a time of grace.
During 6th or 7th centuries, Christian churches thought about this idea. Sometimes, in private, people would sprinkle ashes on themselves as a sign of repentance. Eventually, this became a public practice. Instead of sprinkling the ashes on your head, the ashes would be rubbed onto the forehead in the shape of a cross. It was a sign of repentance, and a reminder of your baptism, when the sign of the cross was placed on you with water and the Word. The ashes would actually be taken from the palm branches from Palm Sunday, burned the year before.
As you think of the ashes on your head, you might think how Christians have done this as a remembrance of sins for hundreds of years.
So how do we begin preparing our hearts for Ash Wednesday and the walk through what we call, Lent?
One way is through prayer.
Throughout the entire Christian scriptures, we hear generations praying, the same prayer: Lord, have mercy...
They're all praying... crying... begging... Lord, have mercy...
The prayer, "Lord, have mercy..." is still echoed today. And, every generation finishes the prayer with a specific subject.
How will you finish the prayer, 'Lord, have mercy...', today?
This week, it's appropriate that we pray, Lord, have mercy on Ukraine and Russia.
So, let's do that together.
A Prayer for the People of Ukraine & Russia
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor.