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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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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