This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. For many Christians throughout the world, it is a significant day for reflection, prayer, and worship. For many others, both Christian and not, Ash Wednesday is a mystery. You may be wondering what this day is all about and why it matters. Or you may wonder why you might want to observe Ash Wednesday.
I have written a short article that seeks to explain the purpose and practices of Ash Wednesday. I’ll print the first couple of paragraphs from that article here. If you find what you read helpful, you can click through to the full article.
What is Ash Wednesday?
What is Ash Wednesday? For most of my life, I didn’t ask this question, nor did I care about the answer. I, along, with most evangelical Christians in America, didn’t give Ash Wednesday a thought.
But then, in 2004, Ash Wednesday loomed large in American Protestant consciousness. Why? Because on that day Mel Gibson released what was to become his epic blockbuster, The Passion of the Christ. For the first time in history, the phrase “Ash Wednesday” was on the lips of millions of evangelical Christians, not just Catholics and other “high church” Protestants, as we anticipated the official release of The Passion. Every since 2004, many who never wondered about Ash Wednesday have been asking: What is Ash Wednesday? How do we observe it? Why should we observe it?
I grew up with only a vague notion of Ash Wednesday. To me, it was some Catholic holy day that I, as an evangelical Protestant, didn’t have to worry about, thanks be to God. In my view, all of “that religious stuff” detracted from what really mattered, which was having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In my early evangelical years it never dawned on me that some of “the religious stuff” might actually enrich my faith in Christ.