Ash Wednesday

Yesterday was Pancake Day.  Anyone who didn’t notice must have been taking time away from all sorts of social and other media!  Its real name in the UK is Shrove Tuesday.  Another blogger has explained the reason for this.

Shrove Tuesday is followed by Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  This word Lent has nothing to do with borrowing or lending, but comes from an old word meaning spring.  It is a season lasting 40 days plus Sundays before Easter.

There are other important days at this time of year.  Mothering Sunday and Palm Sunday have their own traditions.  In the UK many people call Mothering Sunday “Mother’s Day” (not on same date as in the United States of America).

Just before Easter we have Maundy Thursday, the day we remember the Last Supper, which gave us the service known variously as Holy Communion, the Eucharist or Mass.  The following day is Good Friday, then Low Saturday and Easter Sunday.

So today is Ash Wednesday.

If you have met anyone with a sooty mark on their forehead, they have been to a church service where the imposition of ashes was offered.  It is a way of witnessing to people that the Christian faith is important to them.

I am not entering into any debate about whether the imposition of ashes or ashing is a good thing or not – just mentioning that it happens.  I am rather amused by the appearance on Twitter of a new hashtag for today –  #ashtag is accompanying Tweets and selfies.

There is a post, which is well worth reading on the God and Politics blog.  I have little to add to it.  I used to give things up for Lent.  Once I gave up sugar in tea and never needed it again.  Later I started to try to be more disciplined in my Bible reading and prayer.  The rationale for giving things up is that Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days and nights.  Matthew 4:1-11

Last year the vicar asked me if I was going to do anything extra for Lent, but I thought I was already at full-stretch!  This year I hope I can manage my time a bit better than of late and perhaps write more.

I am planning to attend a service of Holy Communion this evening.  I shall not be ashed.  I’m not sure whether it will even be an option.  (The ash is produced by burning palm crosses from the previous year.)

Another important date this week is Friday, which is the day known as the Women’s World Day of Prayer.  There will be a service for it in the village where I live.  Perhaps I’ll write a post about it later.

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