If you’re not part of a liturgical church, you may wonder why folks are going around today with a black cross on their foreheads. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent.
Although there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, Lent is considered to be a 40-day season because the six Sundays are not considered part of the Lenten fast days. Every Sunday is a little Easter in memory of the Resurrection, so the 40 days of Lent are 40 days of fasting and penitence in preparation of the holiest day of the liturgical year, Easter Sunday.
On Ash Wednesday, liturgical Christians attend church services for the Imposition of Ashes, in which a priest or pastor makes the sign of the cross on the penitent’s forehead in ashes, in many traditions saying, “Remember, o man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” The ashes symbolize repentance, and the cross reminds believers of the great sacrifice Christ made for us sinners at His Crucifixion.
Many Christians fast—often a dietary fast, or give up something, for Lent. A Christian can give up anything that comes between him or her and the Lord. While many people give up sweets or meat, some Christians give up social media to spend more time in God’s Word. Whatever we give up should not only be a sacrifice—a penance, but it should also bring us closer to God—such as giving up Facebook and adding Bible reading.
As you see from my Goodreads page, I read a lot, especially fiction. During Lent I read only Christian nonfiction books. Giving up fiction is a sacrifice, as I do enjoy reading stories. And the nonfiction Christian books I’m reading bring me closer to God.
I also add extra devotional reading to my daily devotions. I keep a prayer journal, recording my Scripture readings, my thoughts on the reading, and a prayer. Each year, I post my devotions from the previous year on my blog. I hope these verses from God’s Word, my meditations, and prayers from my heart will add to your own devotions this Lent.
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