ash wednesday

Lauren F. Winner 02-22-2012
Ashes to Ashes image via Tim/Wylio. (http://www.wylio.com/credits/Flickr/4366100

Ashes to Ashes image via Tim/Wylio. (http://www.wylio.com/credits/Flickr/4366100883)

Repentance has a public aspect and a private aspect. Jesus speaks very clearly about doing one’s repentance in secret -- not chattering on in public about how hungry your pious fasting has left you. At the same time, the church also has a ministry to call -- publicly -- for repentance, to sometimes play the role of John the Baptist. Calls for repentance happen every week, every day, inside religious buildings, inside religious communities.  Sometimes calls for repentance need to happen out on the street corners, too.

Still, this is a strange thing to do, this liturgy outside a hospital.  It does not feel entirely comfortable to me -- but I am not sure anything about Ash Wednesday ever feels entirely comfortable.

Piet Levy 02-22-2012
People on the Street. Photo by Jon Candy/Wylio. (http://www.wylio.com/credits/Fl

People on the Street. Photo by Jon Candy/Wylio. (http://www.wylio.com/credits/Flickr/5204148454)

Five years ago, the Rev. Teresa K.M. Danieley had an epiphany of sorts. If people can grab breakfast on the go or pay a bill from their cell phone, she thought, why shouldn't they be able to get their ashes in a flash?

That's why, on Ash Wednesday 2007, Danieley planted herself in full priestly regalia at a busy intersection in St. Louis, smudging the sign of the cross on the foreheads of bicyclists, drivers and bus passengers.

This year, at least 49 Episcopal parishes across 12 states will offer ashes to passersby at train stations, bus stops and college campuses on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22) as Danieley's "Ashes to Go" concept spreads nationwide.

Shane Claiborne 02-21-2012

All the major world religions have an element of self-denial at their core. Jews have Yom Kippur.Muslims have Ramadan.Christians have Lent. 

In a world filled with clutter, noise, and hustle, Lent is a good excuse to step back and rethink how we think and live.In a world of instant gratification, it’s a chance to practice delayed gratification – to fast -- so that we can truly appreciate the blessings we have.In a world where virtual friends are replacing real ones, it is an invitation to turn off TV and computer screens so we can spend time with real people again. 

It’s an opportunity to give up something that is sucking the life out of us so that we can be filled with God, with life, with love again.

Myrna Pérez 02-20-2012
"Penance." Image via Wylio, http://bit.ly/wo6sWJ.

"Penance." Image via Wylio, http://bit.ly/wo6sWJ.

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics and many others will walk around with ashen crosses (or, by the end of the day, what look like indeterminate smudges) on our foreheads. Those ashes are strong symbols of core principles of the Catholic faith — symbols of repentance, identity, reconciliation, and renewal of baptism in the faith.  



As a voting rights lawyer who is about as passionate about my work as I am about my faith, I can’t help but see parallels between the moral guidance I am given by my faith, and the policy choices that confront us in the secular world. These principles are reflected in the way we worship – and also in the actions we take in the secular world. This has led me and others to the conclusion that the 4 million Americans who lost their voting rights while incarcerated, and now live in our communities, deserve the chance to vote again upon release. It is both the just and the moral thing to do.

As we approach Ash Wednesday during this Holy Season, I encourage all Christians, guided by their core beliefs, to consider this idea.

Ash Wednesday ashes. Image via Wylio, http://bit.ly/zWZxhw.

Ash Wednesday ashes. Image via Wylio, http://bit.ly/zWZxhw.

This coming Wednesday, Febr. 22, is Ash Wednesday. The following new hymn is based on the Revised Common Lectionary’s assigned reading of Isaiah 58:1-12 with its social justice themes.

            O God of Love, the Fast You Choose

  KINGSFOLD CMD (“Today We All Are Called to Be Disciples”)

O God of love, the fast you choose is not some great display.

It’s everything we gladly do to serve you day by day.

It’s not a moment set apart when we will mourn our sin;

For you require a change of heart—  a change from what has been....

Julie Clawson 04-05-2011
My daughter has had a difficult time understanding Lent this year.
Kent Annan 03-18-2011
Watching the unfolding tragedy in Japan of course has me reflecting on the past fourteen months in Haiti since the earthquake there.
Tracey Bianchi 02-23-2011
Lent. It's an odd word, not exactly one that shows up in the vernacular of our everyday.
Ruth Hawley-Lowry 04-02-2010
I gave up fear for Lent. That seemed like a good and perhaps even holy idea at the time.
Eugene Cho 02-19-2010
Are you giving something up for Lent? What and why?
LaVonne Neff 02-17-2010

Fifteen years ago next week, on my mother's 85th birthday and exactly one week before Ash Wednesday, my father died.

Tracey Bianchi 02-16-2010

It's Fat Tuesday. The height of the Mardi Gras celebration. The pinnacle of Carnaval. The time of year when religious and non-religious types alike trek to places like New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro to whoop it up before the season of Lent begins. Granted, most party-goers could likely give a rip about Lent, but to celebrate the storm before the calm is still a tradition many engage in.

LaVonne Neff 02-15-2010

In January last year, Mr. Neff and I began a Lenten experiment. We wanted to see if we could eat adequate amounts of tasty and nutritious food on a food-stamp budget. We also wanted to see what we might learn from the attempt. I recorded the experiment in fifty almost-daily posts on my blog, Lively Dust.

Barbara Born 02-25-2009
Bible readings from the Revised Common Lectionary: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51; 2nd Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21.

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