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    Lent: A Primer

    Today is “Mardi Gras,” which means “Fat Tuesday.” In many parts of the world, people call Mardi Gras “Pancake Day” or Shrove Tuesday, and they eat stacks of syrup-covered cakes in celebration. Pancake Day is the liturgical polar-opposite of a last-chance workout. Because Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, people snarf up all the stuff from which they’ll fast for the next forty days. Items included in the traditional “fast” were sugar, butter, flour and eggs—which, if you mix them up, make pancake batter. So, people made pancakes out of the ingredients they needed to use up, and they consumed the resulting “stacks” the day before austerity set in. Voila! The story…

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    Ash Wednesday

    Today is Ash Wednesday…what is it and should I participate? This day of repentance and returning, which for many in the Western church marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting before Easter following the example of our Lord who spent 40 days in the desert to fast and pray (Matthew 4:1-11).  It is also known as the “Day of Ashes,” so called because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross. In the Old Testament ashes were used for two purposes: as a sign of humility and mortality and as a sign of sorrow and repentance…

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    Lent for Beginners

    Today is Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. Today we eat the chocolate we may be giving up starting tomorrow.  Lent, the forty-day season preceding Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday, tomorrow. On Ash Wednesday, participants receive ashes on their foreheads as a reminder that from dust we came, and to dust we shall return—not in some morbid zombie sense, but because remembering the brevity of life and our mortality can help us live more holy lives. Long before the Eastern and Western Church split, and long, long before the Protestant Reformation, Christian believers observed this special season of penance. “Lenctentid” literally means both “springtide” and “March,” the month in which most of…

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    The First Day of Lenten Season

                              Today marks the first day of the Lenten season—the beginning of the 40-day period (excluding Sundays) that ends with Easter Sunday. On this Ash Wednesday—across the country and around the world—Christians from various denominations will commemorate this “Day of Ashes” by fasting and praying. Others will participate in ceremonies that will involve ashes marked on their foreheads in the shape of the cross.    For those of us who will participate in Ash Wednesday and Lent, we do so in anticipation of renewal and newness in our intimacy with God. We shift our focus towards spiritual reflection…

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    Ash Wednesday – what questions should I ask?

    Today is Ash Wednesday…what is it and should I participate? This day of repentance, which for many in the Western church marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting before Easter following the example of our Lord who spent 40 days in the desert to fast and pray (Matthew 4:1-11).  It is also known as the “Day of Ashes,” so called because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross.   In the Old Testament ashes were used for two purposes: as a sign of humility and mortality and as a sign of sorrow and repentance for…

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    Lent 101: Five Suggestions

    “What are you giving up for Lent?” For many Protestants, our only knowledge of Lent is what we perceive as excessive asceticism on the part of other Christians, often preceded by binging on Mardi Gras. We connect the season only with “giving up” something. Because today is Mardi Gras, I propose that we take a closer look. Just because some people abuse a spiritual practice, does that warrant our dismissing it altogether? “Mardi Gras” means “Fat Tuesday.” And Fat Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday, which happens tomorrow and which marks the beginning of Lent—the forty-day season leading up to Easter. On Ash Wednesday participants receive ashes on their foreheads as a…

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    Considering Ash Wednesday and Lent

    Today is Ash Wednesday – what exactly is this day? What are the origins? Is this something I should be aware of and participate in? This day of repentance, which for many in the Western church marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting before Easter following the example of our Lord who spent 40 days in the desert to fast and pray (Matthew 4:1-11).  It is also known as the “Day of Ashes,” so called because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross. 

In the Old Testament ashes were used for two purposes: as a…