Bishop Dobbs Feb 2018
WITH GREAT DEVOTION
Bishop Julian Dobbs writes on Ash Wednesday 2018
Dear People of God,
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent: a time of penitence, fasting and prayer, in preparation for the great Feast of the Resurrection.
As Christians all over the globe observe a Holy Lent, we remember the invitation of our Savior, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Luke chapter 9.
Below you will find the introduction to the Ash Wednesday liturgy from the Anglican Church in North America. I invite you to read this with me as we prepare our hearts for Lent and look to Christ. Let us journey together in a state of humble service and Christ centered dedication.
The season of Lent began in the earliest days of the Church as time of preparation for those seeking to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. The forty days refer to our Lord's time of fasting in the wilderness; and since Sundays are never fast days, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten Fast.
Throughout the Old Testament, ashes are used as a sign of sorrow and repentance, and Christians have traditionally used the same to indicate sorrow for our own sin, and as a reminder that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Like Adam and Eve, we have disobeyed and rebelled against God, and are under the same judgment, "you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19b).
But as we are marked with ashes in the same manner that we were signed with the cross in Baptism, we are also reminded of the life we share in Jesus Christ, the second Adam (Romans 5:17, 6:4). It is in this sure hope that we begin the journey of these forty days, that by hearing and answering our Savior's call to repent, we may enter fully into the joyful celebration of his resurrection.
The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful, were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. In this manner, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need that all Christians continually have to renew our repentance and faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and alms-giving; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word.
And to make a right beginning, let us now pray for grace, that we may faithfully keep this Lent.
O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire you with our whole heart:
that desiring you, we may seek you;
and that seeking you, we may find you;
and that finding you, we may love you;
and that loving you, we may hate those sins from which you have delivered us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.