Reasons Why We Observe Ash Wednesday In Nigerian Anglican Churches
The aim of this article is to explain why the Anglican Church celebrate ash Wednesday. Most times, Pentecostal churches tend to condemn and speak against almost every practice of the Orthodox Church. But I hope this article will be meaningful and in turn convince as many as possible, but for the doubting Thomas’s, I do not know what else to do. I can only talk of Anglican because of my Anglican background, but I will not be able to talk much about Catholics and other orthodox churches. Although they all celebrate this event, yet I will not be able to place the exact reason why they do it.
Ash Wednesday is celebrated in the Anglican Church to mark the beginning of lent. Lent is a period of fasting and prayer which is observed by all Anglicans worldwide. It is celebrated once in a year and it terminates with the celebration of Easter. The lenting period for the Anglican Church lasts for a period of 40 days but ash Wednesday is celebrated 46 days to Easter. The fasting lasts for 40 days because the number 40 is a unique number. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and Moses also fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Thus the Anglican Church fasts for 40 days. Many other churches fast for as long as they can or as short as they can. For example, RCCG fasted for 100 straight days in 2017 and 50 straight days in 2018, yet in July, they will also embark on another fasting for 30 days to complete 80 days fasting. Some other churches fast for the first 7 days of every year, some fast the last 7 days of every year, yet others fix their fast within the year. Islam fast 30 days to their sallah. Thus, the subject of fasting is not a new thing; neither did it originate from the Anglican Church. The lenting period occurs at a calculated time. As earlier stated, ash Wednesday occurs 46 days to Easter. The Anglican church do not fast on Sundays and as such, this lenting period lasts for 7 week (46 days) minus 6 Sundays in which no fasting is done. It is expected that every Anglican join in this yearly and spiritual exercise.
There are basically two major reasons why the church still celebrates Ash Wednesday which I am here to highlight.
The first reason why we still celebrate Ash Wednesday is because it is a sign of genuine repentance, sober reflection and sorrow. Dating back to the Old Testament, we see that ash was used severally on different occasions to mourn or bewail issues like; pronounced judgement, sorrow of heart, remorse and repentance. Perhaps, the following scripture references would throw more light. Job.42v6, Esther.4v1-3, 2Samuel.13v19, Jeremiah.6v26.25v34, Daniel.9v3. Jonah.3v6, Matthew.11v21, Luke.10v13. These few verses show us that ashes are been used basically as a sign of repentance and Jesus confirmed it validity as we see in Matthew and Luke. For this reason, the lenting period starts with the Ash Wednesday to show that the season is a season of sober reflection. It is a season of genuine repentance which ushers us to fast and pray, calling on the Lord Most High with a pure heart and a holy hand.
The second reason why Ash Wednesday is celebrated in the Anglican Communion is to remind us who we are. No matter the extent of our greatness and achievement, it a sad news to know that we are just ash and dust. This is why in a typical Anglican burial scenario, you will see or hear the following lines, “earth to earth, dust to dust, ash to ash”. With these statements, the grave of the dead person is covered. Therefore, we must constantly remind ourselves whom we are and not go about thinking that we are what we are not. With this in mind, it will help every Christian worldwide to understand the more that we are all ash and one day we will return back to ash while the soul returns to God.
Do We Just Pick Up Ash From Anywhere
This is another important question that i will not fail to answer. Do we pick up ash from anywhere, since ash do not have its types? The answer is NO. We do not just use any kind of ash for this celebration. We get a palm frond, burn it and use that ash for the celebration. Palm frond is selected because when Jesus went triumphantly into Jerusalem, the people got palm frond and st it om the ground for His ass to walk on it. For this reason, the Anglican church use the ash gotten from palm frond.
May God help us so that this celebration will not just be to fulfill all righteousness. One of the major reason why it seems as if Christianity is losing its value day by day is because some of those things which were instituted our Christian fathers are now been abused and carried out just to fulfill all righteousness.