The church season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes 40 days later (not counting Sundays) on Easter. Each year, this journey from the sobering remembrance of our human mortality to the joyous celebration of resurrection life offers us the opportunity to review and renew the Great Exchange that God has graciously made available to us in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. But within the Great Exchange of the Gospel are a thousand smaller, daily exchanges with God: sin for pardon, shame for honor, fear for courage, discouragement for hope, death for life. And perhaps more than any other part of the Bible, the Psalms record a long and varied history of real exchanges between God and his people.
For that reason, our recommendation for this Lent season is for you to read through the Psalms each day (download button below), paying special attention to the moments when these poems “turn” at the intervention of God.
ONLINE GATHERING INSTRUCTIONS
On Ash Wednesday, we encourage you to view this video gathering that will lead you and whoever you invite (family, friends, neighbors) through a very simple “at home” Ash Wednesday service with worship, reflection, and teaching.
PREPARATION OF ASHES
Empty the provided ashes into a small, shallow bowl and add a very small amount of oil (olive oil works well) until the consistency is a thick paste. You will be prompted on when to apply them during the service.
APPLICATION OF ASHES
Once you have mixed the ash and oil into a paste, put a small amount of it on one of your fingers and apply it in the shape of a cross. Don’t worry if the result is unrecognizable–in our experience, the cross shape usually comes out looking like a bit of a blob, but it’s the symbolism that counts. Some people like to wear the ashes for the rest of the day as a reminder of mortality, while others prefer to wash it off after application. From our point of view, either option is fine–after all, it’s the focus of our heart that matters.