Why You Should Come to Ash Wednesday Service
This Wednesday night at 6:00 is our Ash Wednesday Service at BCC. If you are in Bismarck, you are welcome to join us. You can even drive in from out of town if you like.
But I know not everyone will come. At our church we have been what are usually called “Evangelicals” and evangelicals have a long, messy history with Ash Wednesday and with Lent in general.
I suppose there are some historical reasons for this. For instance the general fear of anything that might look too “Catholicky” (no I didn’t just make up that word). We have at times seen some friends turn Lent into “God’s Weight Loss Program” (didn’t make that up either). We are easily suspicious of many things. But I think our avoidance of Lent has had a tremendously painful impact on our souls.
You see, Ash Wednesday and the season between that day and Easter are known in the church as a season of lament. This is a time when we remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return.
Probably one of the most dangerous diseases to afflict evangelical theology is the desire that everything be pretty. We chant out trite phrases like “God is good – All the time!” and we say this when loved ones have cancer. We say this when we just lost our job. We say this when we are spending our time caring for someone who can’t get out of bed. We say this when a person in our church has just lost a child.
And while on some level we know that God truly is good all the time, the one thing you can’t say in church is, “It doesn’t really feel like it right now.”
Because that’s not pretty.
Death in American culture is something we are supposed to “get over.” Grief in the church is something we will eventually “move past.”
But true Biblical theology presents us with a very different perspective. One we desperately need to recapture for ourselves and then offer to the world around us.
If you are reading this right now, death lies in front of you.
You can pretend that away. You can say “well, let’s just not talk about that.” You can live as if you are going to live forever. This is what many of us do. But none of that will change your reality. You are going to die.
We can either seek to adjust to that reality or we can be surprised when it comes.
But why live in a false reality? Why pretend that the world is one way, when we, the church, are a people who know the truth. We possess the truth. We are a people who have been entrusted with the very words of God. When we pretend to make ourselves feel better we put our very souls in jeopardy.
God has given us a promise. Death, while it lies in wait for us all, has been defeated. Jesus walked out of the grave. Death will not have the final say.
So while Ash Wednesday is in some ways a lament over the reality that we are dust and we shall one day return to dust, this also allows us to celebrate a greater truth. Acknowledging this reality will help us to aim our hearts toward the hope that we have in Christ. And will gradually ease us away from the false hope that this life has anything that we can hold on to.
Consider joining us on Ash Wednesday at 6 PM as we remember we are all dying, but Jesus is alive forever.