Saturday, February 24, 2007

What is Ash Wednesday?..:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

-Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent.

-Ash Wednesday is actually called "The Day of Ashes"

-It occurs forty days before Easter. (excluding Sundays)

-Its name comes from the ancient practice of placing ashes on worshippers' heads or foreheads as a sign of humility before God, a symbol of mourning and sorrow at the death that sin brings into the world. It not only prefigures the mourning at the death of Jesus, but also places the worshipper in a position to realize the consequences of sin.

What is Lent?

- The season of Lent is the 40 day period beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending the Saturday before Easter.

-We are not exactly sure of when Lent began but it seems to have taken on shape in the fourth century of the church.

-Originally, Lent was the time of preparation for those who were to be baptized, a time of concentrated study and prayer before their baptism at the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord early on Easter Sunday. But since these new members were to be received into a living community of Faith, the entire community was called to preparation.

-Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter.

-Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance. This season of the year is equal only to the Season of Advent in importance in the Christian year, and is part of the second major grouping of Christian festivals and sacred time that includes Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.

- The word itself comes from an Anglo-Saxon word: meaning 'spring' which comes from a word that means "lengthen", which it is called because the days are getting longer-

-Easter is, of course, the ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />high point of the Christian year. A time to celebrate the victory of the Lord Jesus over sin and death, demonstrated by his resurrection.

-As the church became established it was common for converts to be baptised at Easter, so that physical act of baptism was an even stronger symbol of a spiritual truth:

"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." (Romans chapter 6 verses 3-5 NIV)

Is Lent in the Bible?

-No…Lent is not church doctrine. Simply a discipline hat is practice to help us in our journey with Christ. Although, many believe that Lent was directly passed on to the early church by the apostles.

-The practice didn't start until a few centuries after the bible was written. Fasting and abstinence are very old spiritual disciplines, but they aren't really doctrines (teachings). We use them because they seem to help.

-Theoretically, it could be dropped at any time.

Why observe Lent?

-To Remember. To identify ourselves with the story of Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection.

-Also is a great way to be fully aware of the coming Easter. It is a journey to the cross. As said in the Bible, "Prepare the way of the Lord"

Why start on Ash Wednesday?

-As mentioned before….ash Wednesday is forty days, excluding Sundays to Easter.

Why use ashes?

-Because ashes are a biblical symbol of mourning and penance.

-In Bible times the custom was to fast, wear sackcloth, sit in dust and ashes, and put dust and ashes on one's head. While we no longer normally wear sackcloth or sit in dust and ashes, the customs of fasting and putting ashes on one's forehead as a sign of mourning and penance have survived in some Christian traditions to this day.

-1 Samuel 4:12, 2 Samuel 1:20, 2 Samuel 13:19, 2 Samuel 15:32; are some Scripture references of people having ashes on their head.

-Also, the ashes symbolize death and so remind us of our mortality. Thus when the ashes are rubbed on someone's forehead, the minister says, "Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return," which is modeled after God's address to Adam (Genesis 3:19; cf. Job 34:15, Psalms 90:3, 104:29, Ecclesiastes 3:20). Abraham's confession, "I am nothing but dust and ashes". (Genesis 18:27).

Where do the ashes come from?

-They are made by burning palm fronds which have been saved from the previous year's Palm Sunday -- blessed ashes having been used in God's rituals since the time of Moses (Numbers 19:9-10, 17).

-We use the previous year's palm frongs because Palm Sunday was when the people rejoiced at Jesus' triumphal entrance to Jerusalem. They celebrated his arrival by waving palm fronds, little realizing that he was coming to die for their sins.

-By using palms from Palm Sunday, it is a reminder that we must not only rejoice of Jesus' coming but also regret the fact that our sins made it necessary for him to die for us in order to save us from hell.

Why mark the forehead?

-Because in the Bible a mark on the forehead is a symbol of a person's ownership. By having their foreheads marked with the sign of a cross, this symbolizes that the person belongs to Jesus Christ, who died on a Cross.

Why is the cross the symbol that is used?

-The reference to the sealing of the servants of God for their protection in Revelation is an allusion to a parallel passage in Ezekiel, where Ezekiel also sees a sealing of the servants of God for their protection:

-"And the LORD said to him [one of the four cherubim], 'Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark [literally, "a tav"] upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.' And to the others he said in my hearing, 'Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.' So they began with the elders who were before the house." (Ezekiel 9:4-6)

-Unfortunately, like most modern translations, the one quoted above (the Revised Standard Version), is not sufficiently literal. What it actually says is to place a tav on the foreheads of the righteous inhabitants of Jerusalem.

-Tav is one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and in ancient script it looked like the Greek letter chi, which happens to be two crossed lines (like an "x") and which happens to be the first letter in the word "Christ" in Greek (christos).

-The Jewish rabbis commented on the connection between tav and chi and this is undoubtedly the mark Revelation has in mind when the servants of God are sealed in it.

Why is forty days significant?

-The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling.

-40 is a significant number in Jewish-Christian scripture:
In Genesis, the flood which destroyed the earth was brought about by 40 days and nights of rain.
The Hebrews spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the land promised to them by God.
Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai.
Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry.
Most Christians regard Jesus' time in the wilderness as the key event for the duration of Lent.

- One resource mentioned this, In determining this period of forty days the example of Moses, Elias, and Christ must have exercised a predominant influence, but it is also possible that the fact was borne in mind that Christ lay forty hours in the tomb.

Why not include Sundays?

Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent.

Why fast during Lent?

-We make sacrifices to remember that He made the ultimate sacrifice.

Why has meat been traditionally fasted?

- First, abstaining from meat is a way of practicing self denial and taking on a kind of voluntary, temporary poverty as a kind of "gift" to God. The idea of penance, which is the larger idea here, is thousands of years old, reaching back to the early Hebrews, at least. Some people wore sackcloth and ashes, others fasted and wept. It is a way of stripping away the tokens of wealth and power for a short time so we can remember who we are. As part of this, meat (except fish) tended to be the food of the wealthy, and still does.

-Second, the idea is we avoid bloody (red meat) food out of respect for the Crucifixion, because Jesus gave his blood for us. Fish are okay, because they are "bloodless." (To the ancients, fish didn't appear to have much blood.)

-Lastly, in the Old Covenant that we made sacrifices of animals to God. Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice and we no longer make sacrifices to God. So fasting meat, except fish which was not believed to be used in sacrifices, we are remembering that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for us and our sins.

What is the culmination of Lent?

-Holy Week…the week before Easter Sunday. Including, Maundy Thursday (the Last Supper), Good Friday, and Saturday; often referred to as "Holy Saturday".

What is significance of the Lenten colors?

- These colors symbolize both the pain and suffering leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus as well as the suffering of humanity and the world under sin.

-The color used in the sanctuary for most of Lent is purple or dark violet. But purple is also the color of royalty, and so anticipates through the suffering and death of Jesus the coming resurrection and hope of newness that will be celebrated in the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Some church traditions change the sanctuary colors to red for Maundy Thursday, a symbol of the disciples and through them the community of the church

-Traditionally, the sanctuary colors of Good Friday are black, symbolizing the darkness brought into the world by sin. It also symbolizes death, not only the death of Jesus but the death of the whole world under the burden of sin.

-Black is used through Holy Saturday, although it is always replaced by white before sunrise of Easter Sunday. Also, flowers are used on the cross, which represent life.

Why have we not traditionally observed Lent?

-The season of Lent has not been well observed in much of evangelical Christianity, largely because it was associated with "high church" liturgical worship that some churches were eager to reject. However, much of the background of evangelical Christianity, for example the heritage of John Wesley, was very "high church."

-We hope to help our church apply aspects of a larger Christian tradition as a means to refocus on spirituality in a culture that is increasingly secular.

- Carnival or Mardi Gras is usually a period of celebration, originally a festival before the fasting during the season of Lent. Now it is celebrated in many places with parades, costumes, dancing, and music. Many Christians' discomfort with Lent originates with a distaste for Mardi Gras, which in some cultures, especially the Portuguese culture of Brazil and the French culture of Louisiana, has tended to take on the excesses of wild and drunken revelry.


--I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU GAIN A COPY OF "Reliving The Passion" by Walter Wangerin Jr.

-Read a passage from the book

What will you sacrifice as a you "Remember"?

My Mother The Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow

I finished reading this book . . . now my thoughts . . .

I would give this book 3 stars. It held my attention, and the subject was not at all what I thought it was going to be, however, there was just so much more that could've been added. Why did Pauline feel the necessity to go down and be a cheerleader in the first place. The relationship between Pauline and Charlotte could have been expanded. I don't know if it's just me or not, but it almost seemed as if Pauline was jealous of Louise. When Mr. Miller notices her sharp mind, and tries to make her feel better when her mother sets out to purposely embarrass her. The book was definitely a sad one. Not uplifting at all.

Been awhile

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A lot has happened since I wrote last. I've read some, been to Colorado and back. I think I'll talk about my books.

The Queen's Fool

Another one of Gregory's triumphs! A young girl disguising herself so that her father and her won't be discovered as Jews become's Queen Mary's fool. In this installment of the Boleyn's, Mary is Katherine's daughter and Elizabeth is Ann Boleyn's bastard. These two are so much like their mothers it is uncanny. To be honest with all the infidelity, and blood bath I am surprised that England has survived this long.

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

This book is just pure laugh out loud funny! Something I definitely needed after a memorial service. I know I will read this again, just for the pure enjoyment it was.

I am now reading My Mother, The Cheerleader by Richard Sharenow

This book was sent to me by Harper Collins. They gave away free ARC books to those who would be willing to give them feedback on it. It is about integration in the 60's in New Orleans, and how the white families would not allow their children to go to school with the black children. The young girl narrating the story is telling how her mother would go to the elementary school and shout at Ruby Bridges, this kindergartener, because she was black and going to the white school.

I'll give you feedback when I finish it. It's very hard to read, because I think the attitudes expressed by the white families is stupid.

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