Wednesday 22 February 2023

Ash Wednesday 2023

Today is the first day of Lent for the Western church (the various Orthodox churches - have a different calendar and start a bit later).  It's not something Baptists tend to observe, and it's not something I grew up with, but I've come to really value it.  It's 40 days (excluding Sundays) in the lead-up to Easter when we are encouraged to 'purify' ourselves.  It starts with Ash Wednesday, where you can get an ash cross inscribed on your forehead.  In the past I've done this at an Anglican church, where they say something like "Dust you are and to dust you will return" - a reminder of our mortality.  Today I went to our local Catholic church (mostly because I'd been hoping to go with a Catholic friend, but in the end I went on my own), and there they said "Turn away from sin and live out the gospel".


The ashes survived the bike ride home pretty well!

Like most Catholic churches this one has a primary school attached, and the whole school was in attendance at the service.  I liked the way the priest included the children in the service - and it was helpful for me, too, as he brought in simple explanations of the 'why' of things they were doing.  He described Lent as a time of prayer, fasting and generosity.  I've been pondering that all day: I have things in mind for prayer and fasting, but I hadn't been thinking about generosity as I thought how to mark Lent this year.

To support prayer, I've set up a wee prayer station in our bedroom - something new for this year.  It has the daily reflection I've been using for some years, as well as a picture a friend gave me years ago.  It was painted by a German nun called Beate Heinen in 1986 and is called Kreuz und Krippe (cross and nativity).

Here's the text, blown up a bit (if you click on it it should go bigger still):

I've also changed the cloths on the table and the china cabinet to purple, the traditional colour of Lent - to help remind me of the season.

And I've made treats!  Lent is 40 days excluding Sundays - because Sundays are a day of celebration.  I usually make something special to enjoy then.  This year it's ice cream jelly tip slices.

I like the marbled effect they inadvertently ended up with :-)

I used a 2L box of vanilla ice cream for the ice cream, rather than making my own.  The slices took half the box - the other is now in cookies and cream ice cream :-)



  1. I wonder if the Coptic church hold a suitable post dated Ash Wednesday service worth attending. I should ask.

    Interestingly, the 'click on' version of the daily reflections is smaller but much clearer than the email version. Mayhaps the email version has been reduced in resolution but displayed large. Martin may be able to improve that.


    1. There's a Serbian Orthodox church in Pt Chev that I've visited before - they don't worship in English, but they're super-friendly and I'm sure they'd be open to a visit. I believe their Lent starts a week later than ours this year.

      I doubt Martin could fix the picture - Blogger's pretty opaque. Unfortunately the page I got the original text from was behind a paywall when last I checked. It was written by Richard Foster and was on the UK Bible Society site.