Feb 12, 2010

What is Ash Wednesday?

On 17 February 2010 we begin the Lenten season of the church year with a liturgical day designated as Ash Wednesday. Whereas Roman Catholics make a great deal of the day, often Protestants let Ash Wednesday go more or less unnoticed. As United Methodists, who stand for all intents and purposes between these two Christian traditions, many UMs observe the day. In some respects it is easy to see why people would avoid Ash Wednesday as it is a day that is all about sin. Here is a situation posed by John Killinger in his sermon titled “Some Notes on Sin in the Modern World.”

It was one of those afternoon talk shows. I happened to be flipping channels and caught it for a moment. Several young people were sitting on the stage, with an audience out front. They were discussing lifestyles. Somebody accused a young woman, who apparently had just confessed to something she was doing, of being a sinner. There was laughter and applause from the audience.

It didn’t flap the young woman. She appeared in high gear. “Does anybody really sin anymore?” she asked. “I mean, here we are living among all these rapists and serial killers and mass-murderers, the shadow of the Holocaust and all those assassinations and terrorists bombings, and everybody’s doing whatever he or she wants to. Does what I do really matter?”

Nobody said anything. It was a big question, and they weren’t sure of the answer. Does it matter what we do anymore in the kind of world we live in (Pulpit Digest, March/April 1998, Logos Productions, St. Paul, MN, p. 35)?

Truly, Killinger has hit upon one of the foremost questions of our time—a question that Ash Wednesday addresses in no uncertain terms.

Come to worship on 17 February 2010 and join us at FUMC in the sanctuary at 7:00 pm for our Ash Wednesday service—and maybe you can see Rev. Estee Valendy shed some light on a dark subject.


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