Eugene Cho

ash wednesday primer and gathering

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This is from last year but still helpful for those who are not familiar with the purpose of Ash Wednesday.

For 2010, Quest is holding their ASH WED service on Wednesday, February 17 (7-8am). There is also a Family Ash WED event that same night from 6.30-8.15pm. All the info can be found at http://seattlequest.org

Depending on your background, you may or may not be familiar with Ash Wednesday or otherwise referred to as ‘Day of Ashes.’  It marks the beginning of the Lent season as we journey towards the Holy Week in the Christian calendar.  The Lent season culminates with Good Friday [Dark Friday] and Resurrection Sunday.

And a simple primer from Beliefnet:

What is Ash Wednesday?
Also known as dies cinerum, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a penitential season observed by many Christians. While the exact date of Ash Wednesday varies from year to year, it is always in either the month of February or March, depending on where Easter falls in the liturgical year. On Ash Wednesday, worshippers attend services at which they receive ashes on their foreheads. The pastor marks the forehead of each worshipper, often saying “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Where do the ashes come from?
The ashes consist of burned palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service. The ashes are blessed by a priest or pastor.

Why do people receive ashes?
Ashes are viewed throughout Christian history as a symbol of humility and sacrifice for those who wear them.

In earlier times, Christians who committed serious sins did public penance. As part of this, they were sprinkled with ashes and required to wear sackcloths. In later years, penitents were also turned away from their place of worship for the entire season of Lent until Holy (Maundy) Thursday, by which time they had atoned for their sins. Eventually all Christians came to receive ashes in acts of devotion as well.

Why do people fast on Ash Wednesday?
While Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, it is the start of one of the most important seasons in the Christian liturgical year. Since fasting is an integral part of the Lenten season, it is strongly encouraged, and even required, of most Christian worshippers on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Catholics and members of some other denominations also abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent.

How long does Lent last?
Lent (also referred to as the Great Lent in Orthodox Christian traditions) is the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (Pascha), and lasts six and a half weeks. The final week of Lent is called Holy Week; during this period, observant Christians reflect specifically on the last days of Jesus Christ’s life. During Lent, Christians purify themselves by praying, fasting, repenting of their sins, and making changes and sacrifices in their lives.

[Photo by Luis Liwanaga/AFP/Getty]

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Seasons change.
Winds blow.
Chaos ensues.
Yet, Christ is our anchor.
Fix your eyes.
Keep working for God's Kingdom - on earth as it is heaven. "He Makes All Things New." In other words, Christ is our eternal hope. I'm sitting in my swinging bench on the comforts of my front porch after an exhilarating and exhausting day at church. It never gets tiring, stale, or old to preach and proclaim the good news of the Gospel - not just on Resurrection Sunday but every week as we gather as the body of Christ.

But it was this picture of Coptic Christians in Egypt pouring into churches on Easter Sunday that deeply moved my heart...just a week after two churches were bombed by ISIS terrorists taking 45 lives and injuring hundreds.

Even in the face of persecution and suffering, I'm so grateful for the witness of these sisters and brothers in Christ. May they be comforted and strengthened...and wherever you are reading this post, stay encouraged. Be faithful and steadfast. Don't give up. May we keep running the race set before us as we fix our eyes on Christ.

It's not just there. It's all over the world...God is still at work. The Holy Spirit is still moving. God is not yet done. There's only one explanation: 
Christ has risen! He has risen, indeed! Jesus is alive! Hallelujah! #OneChurch Remember, there is no Resurrection without the Crucifixion; No Easter Sunday without Passion Friday; No empty tomb without the Cross.

So, before we move too swiftly to the celebration of the risen Christ, may we sit at the foot of the Cross...and consider the depths of His sacrifice and love. "Oh, what love is this..." Just when we think we get what it means to follow Him, Jesus washes the feet of His disciples including...the one He knew would betray Him,

and the one that would deny him,

and the others that would abandon Him in His greatest need.

What amazing love.
What amazing grace. Oh. What. Amazing. Grace.

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