Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Getting Ready for Easter (Ash Wednesday)

Today is Ash Wednesday and it is celebrated by Christians all over the world. It comes at different times each year due to the date of Easter. Ash Wednesday, which is marked as a day of repentance is also the first day of Lent—the forty days before Easter excluding Sundays. Traditionally, believers “fast” during Lent which leads them to think more on Christ and his suffering. I have heard of folks fasting from chocolate, television, complaining and the like.

It was while living in Louisville that I first became acquainted with Ash Wednesday and Lent. My Catholic friends shared with me the observances are important in the life of the church. I learned that Catholics fast from meat on Fridays. Lent was always a favorite time of mine in Louisville, not because I participated, but because all the Catholic churches would have fish fries. Eating fish during Lent at a Catholic church—priceless.

Growing up Baptist certainly did not give me the opportunity to learn and participate in what is traditional observance in Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopal and some Methodist churches. Our early Baptist forefathers shunned everything that gave the appearance of “popery.” However, I do find it quite helpful to see the importance of the greater Christian calendar. Over the last few years, Arabi Baptist has regularly practiced Advent—the season that prepares us for the coming of Christmas and the incarnation of Christ. This year, I am preparing an Easter Scripture Reading for our church based around the themes of Holiness, Atonement, Forgiveness and Life. There will be daily Bible readings the four weeks preceding Easter (beginning March 16). I will make sure to post the Easter Scripture Reading.

Another helpful practice, as we enter the Easter season, is to read good theologically sound Christian books that cause us to think about the importance of the death and resurrection of Christ. This year, I am reading John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. Stott is a long time Anglican pastor who has faithfully preached the Scriptures for many, many years. A few more that I would recommend are:

The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper

Experiencing the Cross by Henry Blackaby

Six Hours One Friday by Max Lucado

Living the Resurrection by Eugene Peterson

The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul


Frank Brand said...

Praise the Lord! My favorite time of the year is almost here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me and the rest of the cyber world. You are a blessing to me and countless others. Keep plowing and planting.

Bruce Pittman said...

I read The Cross of Christ when I first graduated from seminary. It was the first "conservative" theology book I read on the atonement. I was blown away! The depth & breadth of Stott's thoughts on the cross were so very refreshing after 3 years of liberal teaching. Also read his commentary on Acts. Great read!