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Preparing for A Socially Distanced Ash Wednesday

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What Is Lent?

Lent is a season of the Christian Year where we focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. The season of Lent began with Ash Wednesday (February 17) and continues for 40 days (excluding Sundays) until Easter (April 1). Lent in the Early Church was a time of preparation for converts to Christianity (Baptisms were scheduled on Easter in those days).

Persons who were to be confirmed into the Christian faith entered a period of preparation that included prayer, fasting, self examination, and repentance. The practice evolved into the season observed today by many Christians. During Lent we repent of, turn away from, those things that block our relationship with God and others. Through prayer, fasting, and giving of ourselves, we turn our attention to God, to the good news of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.


What Is Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent and involves a service where we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and return to our loving God. We recognize life as a precious gift from God, and we re-turn our lives toward Jesus Christ. We may make resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next forty days so that we might be more like Christ. In an Ash Wednesday service, usually a minister or priest marks the sign of the cross on people’s foreheads, using ashes.


Preparing for This Year’s Socially Distanced Ash Wednesday

Join us this year from your home for an Ash Wednesday service. This will take just a bit of preparation on your part. Please gather these things and meet us at 11:00 a.m. (Central Time) on Facebook or YouTube to participate in the service together.

You’ll need:

1. A candle. At the beginning of the service, we’ll light our candles to remind us that God is with us, gathering us together from all over the world.

2. Ashes, dirt, oil, or water. In our “normal” Ash Wednesday services, the leader marks our foreheads or hands with ashes that are made up of last year’s burned palm branches. (The palms from Palm Sunday. Remember the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey? And all the people waved Palm Branches and called out, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”)

  • Ashes. Gather some ashes. If you have palms left over, you can burn them. Or you could make your own ashes by writing down on paper and burning things you would like to let go: fear, anger, too much screen time, etc. Put the ashes in a little bowl and have them ready next to your candle.
  • Dirt. The Ash Wednesday service reminds us that we were made of dust and to dust we will return. Just a small bowl of dirt from outside your house would be just as good as ashes. Again, put them in a small bowl and have them ready.
  • Oil. If you don’t have ashes or dirt, you can use a little bit of oil. Have a small amount of oil ready to go.
  • Water. Or just some water will be perfect. Have a glass or bowl of water to put next to your candle. (Safety note: If your ashes need a bit of moisture in them, use oil to moisten rather than water. Ashes + water = a caustic substance called lye. Our ancestors used to make soap this way.)

We hope to see you on Ash Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. (Central Time) on Facebook or YouTube.

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Seeing young people, both men and women, participate in and write their testimonies at The Upper Room daily devotional writers’ workshop in Yangon, 2019, has been a highlight for me. The event and testimonies led to the publication of the first Lenten devotional in the Myanmar language. I truly believe that through The Upper Room ministry, the Lord will continue to equip people in Myanmar to grow and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

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