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Question regarding Lent: I attended an Ash Wednesday service for the first time. I was a very glad that I did. Our service was very different than usual. Our pastor told us that we wouldn't have to give up anything for Lent, but to add a few things. One of those things, is that we accept our babtisim and Christ's forgiveness.

The service started out with a silent prayer and than a greeting that went as follows: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you" and we responded, "And also with you". "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless God's Holy name". Our response: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all God's benefits". Paster: "Who forgives all your sins and heals all your infimities". People: "Who redeems your life from the grave and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness". Response: "Bless the lord who forgives all our sins. God's mercy endures forever".

We than sang some hymns, heard scripture, had another responsive reading. Thanksgiving over the ashes was discussed, "The Lord be with you and also with you"
Than there was the imposition of ashes. We were asked to come forward, kneel at the altar to receive the ashes on our foreheads. Afterwards there was a Psalm of confession said in unison.

One of the things that was different about this service was that we had an exchange of forgiveness. We had the opportunity to share exchanges of forgiveness with several people around us. We said "Forgive me my sister/brother" and we were to respond with "May God forgive us both" After that we sang Psalm 51: CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right spirit within me. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right spirit within me. And cast me not from your presence, O Lord, Take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore me, the joy of my salvation, And renew a right spirit within me".

After that we did communion, lite prayer candles,during this time if we wanted to we had an opportunity to give a prayer request. The rest of the service was very beautiful and proceeded as follows:

THE LIGHTING OF PRAYER CANDLES
The flame rising up to heaven represents our prayers ascending to God and empowering our acts of obedience. The sap of the Frankincense tree and other aromatic substances have been used in honor of God and have been associated with the worship of God since God commanded Moses to burn incense to Him in the tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 30). The use of incense in worship continued through New Testament times, the magi offered frankincense to the Christ Child in honor of His High Priestly role, and its use has continued in the worship of the New Testament Christian church to the present day. Incense today represents our fragrant offering to God, the prayers of the saints worship of God in Heaven. Today we light candles to show how the prayer of the saints raise like incense and are ever before the throne of God.

THE EXCHANGE OF FORGIVENSS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE LENTEN SEASON:
Another ancient and traditional Christian practice is the asking and exchanging of forgiveness one with another on the evening preceding the first day of Lent. The Lenten season of preparation with its associated disciplines of prayer, fasting, almsgiving and renewed service to Christ and His church is almost as old as the Church itself, and early Christians recognized the importance of beginning the season in unity and reconcilliation, Thus the practice of the exchange of forgiveness was initiated, in which, during the final evening service before Lent, believers go to each other (if possible, to all in attendance, if not practical and exchange the words, "Forgive me, my brother(sister)! to which the other responds, "May God forgive us both!" This beautiful act of fellowship was truly a healing and restoring experience. As the body of Christ it enables us to begin the journey towards the celebration of the Resurrection together.

THE IMPOSITION OF ASHES
The imposition of ashes on our foreheads in the form of a cross is a reminder of our mark of discipleship. Submitting to the imposition reminds us that we are to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus, even as He sets His face toward Jerusalem. In our humble obedience to walk with Him through the time of preparation, we kneel for the imposition and again accept the mark of Jesus own sufferings on our own lives. The ashes are a sign of deep grief and repentance. (Daniel 9:3, Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13) Historically those grieving the loss of a loved one or the deep grief of recognizing their own sins would sit in sackcloth and ashes. It is a sign of our need to repentance and a reminder or our own mortality. The traditional word of imposition are, "From dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return" and "repent and believe the good news". Yet, the sign doesn't end there; the mark of the cross reminds us that though we are dust, Jesus loved us enough to die for us and will walk with us to the victory of Easter and Life Abundant (John 10:10)!

GREETINGS & HAND SHAKE BLESSINGS
The sign of the fish (an acronym for Christians showing they believed Jesus to be the Son of God and our Savior)was a common way to greet people during times of persecution. Other Christians would recognize the sign and hopefully, it would appear a mindless act to non-believers. Similarly to encourage each other, Christians couldn't always openly speak words of comfort and hope. Instead they furtively did a handshake blessing by crossing their fingers as they shook hands. This signified the blessing. "May Christ have victory in your life".

I hope this wasn't too long and you enjoyed my sharing of information about our Ash Wednesday service. Blessings..... Laura

Hi, everyone. This is my first post to any site ever! Did anyone see the cross glowing in the picture of Jubilee? That is what I'm aiming toward, and the only place of rest or celebration for us Christians. Jubilee is an interesting subject, one which gives me great joy as I see God as a God who celebrates!

I have found this OYB study site as a great addition to my study and quiet times. I read in ESV (I'm an NASB person, but they don't do OYB and ESV is the closest) and then check out Matthew Henry's thoughts, and then the blog. I like the pictures! Thanks.

Yes, Sandy I saw the glowing cross. Beautiful!

For Ash Wednesday this year our pastor did something a bit different, too. First of all he had the imposition of ashes given by children because he said ashes represents our sin and the priest or pastor should not be the one to do it. I'm not sure I follow his reasoning on that one. Then after the imposition of ashes, he had part of the baptism service and as part of that we went forward and washed our ashes away, as if Jesus was washing our sins away in the baptismal waters. It was different!

Birdie

I attend an Episcopal church. We have start by having a pancake supper on Shrove (Fat) Tuesday. We put away the Alleluia Banner and burn the palms left over from last years Palm sunday service. The ashes from the burned palms are used during Ash Wednesday service. This is a deeply moving service. It is a good way to evangelize when people come up to you all day and tell you that there is dirt on your forehead,:) We have a simple supper every wednesday evening during lent of soup and bread. This is a big difference from the hardy meals we have on wednesdays the rest of the year. I have given things up in the past but not this year. My son is in Iraq and I am praying so hard for him that I did not give up anything this year. On Palm Sunday we gather in the parking lot and process into the church singing Hosanna and waving our palms. Some years we even have a donkey to march around the church yard. Holy week has some kind of a service every day. I especially love the Maundy Thursday service-we actually take turns in a footwashing ceremony for each other by candlelight. Good Friday service is also moving-the entire altar is stripped and made bare. Some member of the church stays in the church to pray for an hour( members sign up for what hour they want) all the way until sunrise easter morning service. This is the great vigil-I have not yet done this but I plan to at some point. Even though we are a Christian church we also have passover meal on Good Friday with the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs and the jewish readings. This meal is by candlelight. This is also a beautiful service and is very helpful for teaching our children. Every Friday during Lent we (can) walk the stations of the cross-we have the stations plaques up on the pillars in the church. We have sunrise service and regular 1030 service on Easter and the Alleluia banner returns and the altar is dressed again! There are many Passion plays around my city but I've never been to one. We did have a special showing of Mel Gibson's movie for our church the year it came out-there is no way to decribe that experience! During Lent we traditionally do not have weddings or baptisms but always have baptisms on Easter sunday. We have a 3-4 foot wooden cross covered with chicken wire. Everyone brings flowers to church and the children go up front and "flower"the cross. The ugly cross becomes beautiful as the children put their flowers on it. The chidren are given "mite" boxes to fill with pennies and other change during Lent and they bring their boxes up during the offering. We have alot of traditions and ceremonies but nothing can compare to the sacrifice Jesus made for us. I tell my children when they complain about having to go to church so much during Holy week that He gave so much for us, the least we can do is remember His death and celebrate His resurrection and where better than by going to church and by prayer and Bible readings. I may not be the best person, I know I am a sinner, I probably could be a better wife and mother, but I KNOW my children have heard the message of salvation all their lives and even at 17, my twin daughters are bringing all their friends to church with us, youth services and Sunday school. Now if the Holy Spirit could just save my brother-in-law that would be a great thing....His name is Chris-please pray for him.

In reading the Psalm today, it was so joyful! I see it as the mariage feast of the Lamb - We are His bride!
The image of "Ester" from the movie "One Night With the King" came to mind.

What a glorious day it will be to be the bride of Christ!

I don't practice Lent like I used to. It's a totally different concept to me now. Before I was saved, Lent was the time to give up swearing, chocolate and Taco Bell. Now Lent is a time of repentance and reflection of all the Jesus went through so that I could have a place in eternity with Him. I will do little fasts throughout this time for different reasons. I also try to be more aware of what I CAN do for someome else instead of what I should "give up".

Regarding the "expectant" faith of Bartimaeus - I heard a sermon on the radio today about Hebrews 11 - the "faith" chapter. The concept of this sermon was the same...to be expectant in our faith whether it's for healing or forgivness...whatever it is, expect God to do it as long as it's according to His will! Just thought that was very cool!

What are 3 things in your life today that God has blessed you with?
Off the top of my head, I would say my family, my friends and my health. Now I could break each thing down and I could also make a list a mile long....but those are the 3 things that came to mind first. And although I am struggling with some areas of my health for now, I will continue to praise Him through this and have that "expectant" faith...that child-like faith. I trust Him completely.

I love how Jesus is so humble and loves the humble, to be a servant is almost against our nature, it takes God’s power. Some ppl are naturally more inclined to serve of course. Reminds me of a great song by one of my fave bands Kutless called Not What You See:
“I am not what you see, oh no. Not much more than a slave I wish to be. I am not what you see, not much more a slave I should be. Nothing more, a slave I will be.
How could I ever think to be more than the one who created me! I watched him do all that He said, His words were "Be a servant to all". “

When I read about Bartimaeus, all I could think of is how much I wish I lived in those days! Imagine that! Of course I do get eternity with Him which is so awesome, too awesome to imagine!

Honestly, I’m not even sure exactly what Lent is, forgive my ignorance, is it rooted in Catholicism? I know ppl give stuff up for a certain time, but mostly I hear nonbelievers talk about how they give up sex (premarital), drinking, foods, it bothers me. God doesn’t care about those traditions, if its outward, its useless and will not be blessed. If there is something ‘bad’ I need to give up for Lent or whatever, how about I give it up all together. I have no pre-Easter traditions, but rather I meditate on Christ’s death and sacrifice often throughout the yr. I love Good Friday service so much! It’s just such a special day for me each year.

Of course I can think of many blessings, but the ones that come to my mind first, what I’m most grateful for: Jesus’ atonement for my sins!, I have been forgiven and called a daughter of the King, I have the promise of the spirit and Christ dwelling in me all my earthly days, and I have a glorious eternity after my body dies!!! I cant think of anything more wonderful, because there is nothing better!!!

actually, to be honest, i was brought up as a lutheran and still believe in that religion. so i never gave anything up for lent like the catholics did, (most of my friends here are catholic). we always went to church sunday morning and then had a big family easter dinner and always had the easter baskets. after i moved out on my own, we quit going to church easter mornings. we still kept up the family easter dinner though. and there was MANY times we would have been in florida to see my grandparents during easter since it always fell on spring break and usually on my birthday. or very near my birthday. now, i have the family dinner and i know this sounds really pathetic and uncalled for, but i swear, i do not have the time to get up and go to church easter morning when i need to be home here getting things ready to go and am cooking a huge dinner. but as i'm getting ready for my guest to arrive and getting myself ready, i do reflect/meditate why we do celebrate easter. and i always loved palm sunday. in church, we would all get a palm leaf, and the service was always so pretty and so meaningful to me.
proverbs stood out to me. blessings. i'm very blessed to still have the family that i have left which is so not very many now, cuz we disowned them for many different reasons. i'm very blessed to have the friends that i do that love and care about me. and also for the job i got at the end of the janurary. i REALLY needed a job and i was blessed with getting one when i needed one.

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