Ash Wednesday

Steve Miller sang,
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.

I’ve always been one to pay attention to the calendar.

I like living where the year flows in distinct seasons.

Time. Calendar. Seasons.

Always a part of me.

Now I pay more attention to the Christian calendar.

Christians have been making sacred time
Out of what would otherwise be ordinary time
Since the beginning of Christian time.

I like it.

Today is Ash Wednesday.

In the Christian calendar Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten Season.

Lent (an Old English word for spring) is the forty days (excluding Sundays) before Easter. Originally this season was known as the Easter Fast. Both Irenaeus and Tertullian in the early 2nd century make reference to the Easter Fast and it may have originated in the Apostolic era of the late 1st century.

Lent is the holy season where we retrace the steps of Jesus as he journeyed under the shadow of the cross toward the climatic events of death, burial and resurrection. Lent is a time to seriously meditate on Jesus’ journey to the cross, the Holy Week and the sacred events of the Passion. And it begins with Ash Wednesday.

Why Ash Wednesday?

Because we are mortal. We are made of dust and ashes. And to dust and ashes we will return.

Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. -God (Genesis 3:19)

I who am but dust and ashes.
-Abraham (Genesis 18:27)

I repent in dust and ashes. -Job (Job 42:6)

As Jesus journeyed from Galilee to Jerusalem in the spring of A.D. 30 he was on a journey to the grave.

We are all on the same journey.

Ash Wednesday is a day to begin a meditative journey with Jesus through the central events of the gospel story.

Ash Wednesday is a day to consider our own mortality.

In the somber light of my own mortality how shall I live?

How shall I repent and rethink my life before my God?

What does the One who dieth not require of me as one destined to die?

To make so much money?
To achieve a certain social status?
To enjoy particular pleasures?


This is what the Eternal One requires of me:

To do justly.
To love mercy.
To walk humbly.
(Micah 6:8)

And that brings me back to Steve Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle

Feed the babies
Who don’t have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Living in the street
Oh, there’s a solution
Oh, Lord, through the revolution

If I’m going to do these things, I must do them in the fleeting days of my mortal life.

Because time keeps on slippin’ into the future.

My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle. -Job 7:6

Remember now your Creator
Before the silver cord of life is snapped
Before the golden bowl is broken.

-Ecclesiastes 12:6

These are the things to think about and remember on Ash Wednesday.

On this first day of the Lenten season I want to invite you to join me on a journey. I’ve prepared forty days of meditations centered on the crucial events in the life of Jesus during the Holy Week. These meditations begin with the Triumphal Entry and take us to Holy Saturday — the silent day of sorrow before the celebration of Easter Sunday. Most of the meditations surround events related to the sorrows and sufferings of Christ. Sundays are omitted in the Lenten calendar as “mini-Easters.” So that even as we meditate upon the agonies of the Man of Sorrows, we are always reminded of the Door of Hope that is opened in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I believe this Lenten journey toward Easter has the capacity to be a deep and profound spiritual experience.

The 40 Meditations on the Holy Week guides are available at Word of Life Church.

You can download the guide in PDF format HERE.

May the Holy Spirit do a deep and gracious work in your life between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

Pastor Brian


I’m in the cave this week. I’m preparing for Faith Life Weekend 2008 — Faith in Five Arenas.

Friday 7:30 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Sunday 9/11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

I hope to see you then.