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Season of the Cross

Since 2017, here at FBC, we’ve placed an emphasis on the Season of the Cross. Other Christian groups refer to this time of year as Lent (Latin for 40th because it is observed for 40 days). Just as Advent leads up to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Season of the Cross leads up to Easter and the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. However, on our way to celebrating the empty tomb, we dare not bypass the cross. Whereas Advent is marked by a sense of anticipation and ever-increasing joy, the Season of the Cross is a time of somber introspection and spiritual reflection, a time to ponder our own wretched sinfulness and to think deeply about the suffering and sacrifice of Christ on the cross. True, the Season of the Cross (Lent) isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible, but, then again, you won’t find Advent mentioned in the Bible, either. However, Scripture is replete with examples of fasting, prayer, self-reflection, confession, and repentance. Additionally, even though the Season of the Cross isn’t found in Scripture, it has been observed by Christian churches for over 1,800 years. In AD203, a Christian named Iranaeus wrote that there were variations in the way churches prepared themselves spiritually for Easter and said, “Such variation in the observance did not originate in our own day but very much earlier, in the time of our forefathers.” All that to say, we stand in a great tradition when we set aside the time leading up to Easter as a season for intentional fasting, prayer, self-reflection, and repentance.

What about Ash Wednesday? By the time you read this, our Ash Wednesday service will have already happened, but I do want to make some explanation, so that we all understand what it is.

Ash Wednesday simply marks the beginning of the Season of the Cross, just like the first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of Advent.

But, beyond that, why ashes? In Scripture,

there’s a connection between ashes and sorrow, and there’s a connection between sorrow and repentance. In the Old Testament, when someone was grieving, they would put on sackcloth and

ashes. Often, when people recognized they had sinned against God, they would put on sackcloth and ashes as a sign of their godly sorrow and repentance. The only direct reference to this

practice in the New Testament is when Jesus pronounces “woes” against the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida (Jewish cities), saying, “If the miracles that were performed in you had been

performed in Tyre and Sidon (Gentile cities), they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes” (Matt 11:21; Luke 10:13). The Apostle Paul makes the connection between

sorrow and repentance in 2 Corinthians 7:10, where he contrasts “godly” sorrow with “worldly” sorrow. He says that godly sorrow leads to repentance (turning away from sin). So, on Ash

Wednesday, we put on ashes. They remind us of our mortality (earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust). They remind us of the ugliness of our sin, and they prompt us toward godly sorrow

over our sin, a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Of course, we don’t just smear ashes on people; we apply them in the shape of a cross, which reminds us of the awful price Jesus paid for

our sins.

Finally, we are going to have the Easter Pageant this year. Be on the lookout for information in the coming days. The dates are April 3 & 4.

Love y’all!

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