The Church has historically called next Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. Evangelical churches such as ours rarely observe such days, often to our detriment. Whether it is because they are misunderstood or associated with other religious systems, this and others have fallen away from our rhythms of life and worship. Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter. The timing comes from identifying with the 40 day fast Jesus undertook in preparation for His public ministry (the six Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter are not considered part of the observance). The day takes its name because it is a reminder of our mortality. Traditionally, churches will burn the palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday and use the ashes to make the sign of the cross on the forehead of those who mourn their sin and repent of it, trusting Christ for their salvation.
Ash Wednesday also marks the beginning of Lent. Throughout church history Lent has been a time when Christians have devoted themselves to prayer and repentance in order to prepare for Easter. Whether or not you make a special observance of Ash Wednesday or the Lenten season, it should signal for you that Easter is coming. As the most significant day in the life of every Christian, it seems right that we should prepare for this day. By saying this, I am not advocating specific fasts, self-denial, or other religious ceremonies. What I am suggesting is that you give special attention to the cross and the resurrection for these next six weeks. Over the years, I’ve gotten in the habit of reading a book or working through a devotional on the subject. That is one idea for you. Another is to making a weekly habit of reading the narrative of the last week of Jesus life together as a family. This may come naturally to you as we are studying that narrative in Luke’s Gospel leading up to Easter. One helpful tool that we are working to put in your hands is a devotional that will walk you through the last words Jesus spoke during His crucifixion. That will be available shortly before Easter and can be read daily in the week leading up to it. It will include questions your whole family.
This Sunday we will talk about the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and the denial of Jesus from Peter. More than anything, this passage shows our need for Jesus and our inability to save ourselves. This is clearly seen in the actions of the two men, who we are more like than we realize. I hope you will be here this Sunday and each Sunday leading up to Easter. They are important Sundays. The Gospel of Luke is coming to a head. The cross is looming. Yet Jesus will not flinch. Every segment of the story of the God who became man is epic, but rarely (if ever) is it viewed with greater wonder than through the last hours of His life. I can’t wait to worship Him together!
For the sake of His name,