Ash Wednesday

Witness or tradition?

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5-6) 

We spoke to our son and brother, Sajid, in Pakistan this morning. He asked that I write about Ash Wednesday. What’s to say? I hadn’t thought much about it. On the first day of Lent, a forty day period corresponding to the forty days of Christ’s temptation, an ash cross is smeared on the participant’s forehead. Traditionally, it begins a period of spiritual preparation prior to celebrating Christ resurrection. Reflection, repentance and fasting (self-denial) are the acts of the faithful.

I grew up in a Roman Catholic family. We practiced the “big days” on the church calendar. Ash Wednesday and Easter, yes, but nothing in between. Becoming a non-denominational guy, it happened that none of the fellowships to which I have belonged practiced this tradition. So I will refer my readers to Wikipedia. Or better yet, visit, she practices the Roman Catholic faith and is a true child of God who reveals her heart before Jesus with humility and gratitude.

It’s good to have reminders and that’s what traditions can be. The fact that I am in my 70s, and that God’s word is before me every day, reminds me that, right from the beginning, He has always been true to His word. “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you will return. (Genesis 3:18-19) Hold that thought and it will keep you humble.

Being repentant is the best way to live. Forty days is a good start! Each and every day provides plenty of opportunity to fast worldly pleasure in order to glorify God. I am reminded of Abraham when he was pleading for the souls of Sodom. “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes.” (Genesis 18:27) Because of Jesus, with humility we lift our voices to the heavens and are heard.

It is always good to be reminded of our humble state before our Lord and God. “O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for you have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” (Isaiah 25:1) May God bless your days as you worship Him in spirit and in truth.