Ash Wednesday begins the journey
To the editor:
Ash Wednesday is upon us. The Christian faith is all about Jesus Christ, who offered himself on the cross as an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. He is the focal point of salvation, of the Christian faith, and of every believer in Christ (a Greek word meaning Messiah or "the Anointed One").
So, in churches that follow the ancient liturgical tradition of Judaism and the Early Christian Church, the season of the church year, beginning with Christmas, is completed in his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. That six-week period leading to His cross is called Lent. It's a time of special repentance recognizing His journey and the price that he paid.
Ash Wednesday begins that journey. Ashes are often placed on the foreheads of those who come in a long tradition going back to the Old Testament, in passages like Daniel 9:3, which says, "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes."
Jesus also refers to the practice when he pronounces afflictions on two beautiful cities on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. For the people refused to "repent in sackcloth and ashes " (Matthew 11:21, Luke 10:13).
Ashes do not replace true repentance, which is an attitude of the heart and soul. It helps us identify with this ancient practice of solemn repentance. It represents a turning and a yearning for God. This is what our world needs. This is God's intended response to the Good News of Jesus.
You also need Him and this road marked by repentance. Its origin isn't in fear, as some believe, but in response to this hope that we have in Jesus. Many live without hope. Don't live like them.
Many think Jesus just sets up a new law, but the truth is He fulfilled the law and removes its condemnation. Join the people of hope and worship this Lenten season. Follow and learn from Jesus, and you will be eternally blessed.
REV. GEORGE EARHART Stockbridge