Be Smart. Have Hope. Let' s Pray
Se inteligente. Ten esperanza. Oremos
St. Paul's is praying for you! ¡San Pablo está orando por ti!
This will be an unusual Ash Wednesday. Some churches won’t use ashes to mark the beginning of Lent this year. We at St. Paul's will give those who wish to drive by the opportunity to have ashes imposed. It will be done with a q-tip and of course wearing our masks.
Fortunately, our Book of Common Prayer does not require ashes. In fact, “The First Day of Lent” is a valid title for what we usually call “Ash Wednesday” according to our prayer book. The primary focus of getting our Lenten journey started is our awareness of our need to repent. And the whole season flows from that.
For more information on the imposition of ashes click here and read about Ash Wednesday and imposition of ashes by by Bishop J. Neil Alexander.
We are deprived of our usual Lenten customs this year. But perhaps there is an invitation for us to focus on our need of repentance, of our need to draw closer to Jesus Christ. Maybe we will have a deeper experience of growing into the full stature of Christ as we depart our comfortable, familiar places.
Beginning February 24th
Wednesday Nights @ 7 on Zoom
Link and information to come
The topic will coincide with the Stewardship program
during Lent Click Here to Join
Ash Wednesday begins Lent, a season of repentance and renewal of our faith. On Ash Wednesday we remember with prayer, and with the tangible symbol of ashes, our mortal nature, our place in the cycle of life, and our dependence on God. Many people prepare for Lent's humbling nature and call to simplicity the day before Ash Wednesday, on what is called Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, by using the sugar and fat from their cupboards in their last feast or large celebration before Easter. The Lenten season of reflection and simplicity spans 40 days, not including Sundays. (Sundays always celebrate Jesus' resurrection.) This commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and praying in the desert at the beginning of his public ministry, as recorded by the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Though this season is solemn and reflective, it is also a time of preparing our spirits for all that is to come; a "spring cleaning" for the soul. As is said in Godly Play, Lent is a time spent “getting ready to come close to the mystery of Easter.”
READ Psalm 103:8-14
The focal point of Ash Wednesday is the imposition of ashes in the sign of the cross on the forehead. Ashes have several ritual and symbolic meanings. In the Older Testament, ashes are often part of stories of pleas to God for mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. The prophet Daniel dressed in sackcloth and ashes as a sign of his people’s regret for the ways they had turned away from God (Daniel 9:3). The Ninevites did the same when they turned away from corruption and back toward God (Jonah 3:6,10). Central to Ash Wednesday is the invitation to reflect on our own mortality, with a focus on the words God speaks to Adam in Genesis 3:19: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return.” The sign of the cross on our forehead with ashes recalls our baptism, and reminds us that in both life and life beyond life we belong to God; we are "marked as Christ's own forever."
Many churches burn last year’s Palm Sunday palms for their Ash Wednesday ashes. This reminds us that the cycle of the church year is full and complete, and that following the Way of Jesus encompasses this fullness, from birth to death. If you don’t have access to ashes from your faith community, consider burning your own from palms blessed last Palm Sunday -- or you may simply mark your forehead with your thumb. Whether with ashes or your thumb, the following Ash Wednesday prayer is appropriate: Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: May these ashes [or this action] be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. When making the sign of the cross on your forehead, or the forehead of a family member, you might say, Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. After the cross is marked, offer your own prayer to God. What do you notice as you receive or contemplate receiving ashes? Is there anything you would like to let go of and place in God's hands? What does it mean to you to be claimed as God's own, in life and in life beyond life?
PRAY God of all mercy, you love all that you have made. You forgive the sins of all who are
truly sorry. Create and make in us clean hearts, that we, humbly confessing our sins and
knowing our brokenness, may receive forgiveness and blessing; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Anne E. Kitch, The Anglican Family Prayer Book, Morehouse Publishing, p. 133.
The Rev. Michael Wallens
Vicar - Saint Paul's Episcopal Church
P.O. Box 175, Marfa, Texas 79843