On Wednesday, March 5th, if you’re part of the Gathering Church, we ask that you don’t eat or drink anything (except water) from when you wake up in the morning till dinner time. We’ll do this individually, but more importantly we’ll do this with our families and with each other. We’ll then gather in homes around the area (see the sites listed below and RSVP to the hosts), to eat together (via potluck), to share the work of what the Lord has done, and to participate in Ash Wednesday.
This is called a fast. It is something the Church has traditionally done as to jar us out of our routine. So often we take things for granted. That food will be there when we need it. That God will be there when we need him. By periodically breaking our routines, we stand a better chance at being mindful of God and our need of Him, of being sympathetic to those we rarely pay mind to who don’t know where their next meal is. This practice calls us to prayer, to re-calibration, to awareness of our limitations, frailty, and need, and hopefully to a more vivid awareness and thanks to the God who made us, takes care of us, and gives us new life.
The Ashes you’ll receive from each other are actually the burnt remains of last Palm Sunday’s palms. These remind us in stark terms of the both/and of our faith. We are both mortal, death-prone, created humans who experience hunger pangs and suffering, created from dust and to dust returning. And we are victorious, regenerated, Resurrection people, marked by Christ’s Cross and by the Holy Spirit, set on mission for the sake of the world, telling God’s Story of abundant, eternal life, and offering small, incomplete, but no less potent samples.
Ash Wednesday marks our entrance into the season of Lent (simply the season before Easter). It is a time to consider what God has done, by His Spirit, through His Son. We’ll spend our time leading up to Easter, our great celebration of victory over death, of possibility and grace and new life, by considering the cross of Christ, his obedience, his sacrifice, his dying for our sins, for the sake of the very world that crucified him.
Starting Ash Wednesday, we’ll make available a Lenten Reader, to help your devotion throughout Lent. This will include passages, sermons, poems, and chapters that wrestle and rejoice in Christ’s work on Calvary. We’ll also make some live recordings of the music from our 2013 Good Friday service available for free download. Let these songs be prayers and tools to help you focus on Christ during this season of prayer.