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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday today.  The trundle truck and I went up to the parish church this morning and I acquired the traditional dirty face with which to start Lent.

Traditionally Christians have used this time before Easter as a time of re-orienting their lives.  It was the time of preparation for baptism and the whole church supported the new Christians by joining in with prayer, almsgiving and fasting.  The fasting had nothing to do with getting into one’s summer clothes and everything to do with remembering God.

Fasting also gives rise to the modern idea of “giving something up for Lent”.  The idea is that each time we drink a cup of tea without sugar, or say no to a drink, or feel hungry because the price of lunch has been donated to charity, our minds turn to Christ. 

When I was a child it was always chocolate which was on hold for those six and a half weeks.  These days chocolate is such a rare treat anyway that it wouldn’t make much difference.  Maturity brings its own excesses and opportunities.

I cleaned my face after I left church this morning.  And I started the reflective walk to Easter.


  1. I'm not sure this is the proper place to ask it... I've never attended and Ash Wednesday service, or whatever it's properly called. Although there was a drive by Ash Wednesday thing in town this year (that seemed very weird). Okay, are you not supposed to wash the ash from your face until later in the day? I only ask because as I work in a supermarket I see lots of people come in on Ash Wednesday with Ash on their faces and the first year I even noticed it I didn't know what it was but as time has gone by and I've discovered what it was I keep wondering if they have to leave the ashes on for a designated period of time? Is this the case?

    1. There isn't a proper time to wash it off. When I take the service I suggest to people that they wipe their faces before they leave church on the grounds that fasting (of which ashes are a symbol) is supposed to be a secret between you and the Lord and should not be on show. The priest made no suggestion this year but I noted that most people cleaned their faces after the service had finished. By the waythe ceremony is called Ashing and in the Anglican tradition at least takes place as part of a communion service

  2. I do observe fasting though, at different times for different reasons, but always to draw nearer to God.

  3. I remember a lot of the Easter things that we did as children from filling the little Lenten cards with dimes and giving up chocolate or soda or something of that nature. However, one of our pastors, when I was a teenager, encouraged us to "give" rather than "give up". Do some good and if we had to sacrifice to do it, more the better. This year I am taking it in a different direction. I am good about going to church and I am a firm believer in prayer and do it willingly and readily but my weakness is getting into the Word so my plan this Lent is self-discipline -- to get into the Word. Is it a sacrifice? No, of course not. Will it do anybody any good? No, just me. But I feel strongly it is something I need to do and what better time than Lent to discipline myself into the habit.