I had almost forgotten about it until I went to nola.com to check out what was happening in the Big Easy. Then I realized that things were in full force today as Mardi Gras parades and revelry continued until the midnight hour, and then at that point the police on horseback will clear Bourbon Street.
Tomorrow morning people will be lined up outside St. Louis Cathedral ready to receive the imposition of ashes. Thus begins a season of Lent for this heavily Catholic city, and many residents will wear these ashes on their foreheads to signify their sacrifice and human fraility. Aside from whatever else might have happened the night before, they will recognize something spiritual about Ash Wednesday. It’s easy to criticize such an action, especially if there external acts have no corresponding internal change of mind about behavior. It might be best to resist such a tempation and let God do the judging. For many believers, this day and action will hold deep meaning.
Of course Ash Wednesday isn’t just for New Orleans, but a significant season on the Christian calendar. Growing up Baptist, I didn’t hear much about the ashes because it was too Catholic. Having gotten a bit older and wiser (hopefully), I appreciate the spiritual importance of these 40 days. This prepares me for Easter in the same way Advent does for Christmas.
Here’s a good article about Lent that gives some of its history. Regardless of how you acknowledge this season, I do hope that we all embrace the renewal qualities of the season–even those of us who are Baptists. Our church will offer a time of reflection on Ash Wednesday for those who want to receive the Lord’s Supper elements and imposition of ashes. We’ll talk about the importance of this day during Bible Study that night and discuss the relevance of confession, repentance, and acknowledging our sinfulness.
The journey to the cross begins anew. May God help us at UHBC experience renewal and blessing during this season of Lent.