Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is intended to be a 40 day period of fasting, prayer and reflection leading up to Easter Sunday. The tradition is historically observed by Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and other liturgical Protestants. On Ash Wednesday ashes are placed on the individual’s forehead in the shape of the cross. Most churches uses palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday services. The ashes are to be a reminder of our sin and the curse of death that comes from original sin. As we are but dust, the ashes are intended to remind us of our return to dust. Historically ashes are a traditional sign of mourning and repentance so then the observance of Ash Wednesday is meant to remind all who see the cross that the penalty of sin is death but the gift of God through Jesus is eternal life.
For those who practice Ash Wednesday it is a time of serious reflection on personal sin and the price paid by Jesus. In recent years these acts of worship have taken on more of an act of tradition and the original meaning has been lost. Traditionally the act of placing the ashes on the forehead was done in the context of a worship service, performed by called clergy in conjunction with Mass. Now days churches offer “ashes to go” for those who are too busy to attend a service of worship. This has become so popular and organized that a website has been created for participants to locate the closest public venue (Ashestogo.org). When the practice of religion is made too convenient the purpose and foundational understanding of why we do what we do is lost to the participant. Ashes that were meant to symbolize the acknowledgment of personal sin now take on a more social significance than spiritual.
Take for example a move to reach out to those in the gay community who feel shunned by the church. Gay clergy in America will offer ashes mixed with purple glitter on Ash Wednesday to welcome LGBT people. They are calling it “Glitter Ash Wednesday” in providing what they claim is a twist to the somber ceremony to highlight their support of LGBT Christians. Rev Marian Edmonds-Allen says that “The whole point of Glitter Ash Wednesday is to reflect the deep, somber, serious faith in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection that millions of queer Christians have. Jesus despised religion and loved people who were hated and excluded–He gathered them to Himself. Gay people are driven out of churches by a 'misplaced belief that God hates queer people”.
It saddens me that people like Reverend Edmonds-Allen, who have access to the Scriptures and have devoted their life to ministry, with the best of intentions, highjack something like Ash Wednesday and turn it into something that it was never meant to be. In this case changing the entire practice into the exact opposite of what it is meant to reflect. With an honest desire to reach out to the gay community ministers who do not correctly handle the Scriptures have the potential of loving people right into Hell. To take a traditional practice meant to reflect on personal sin they have turned the meaning of the ashes into a social and political statement mocking the fact that the Bible addresses homosexual behavior as sin. http://www.queervirtue.com/glitter-ash-wednesday
How sad that we would seek to be more politically correct than scripturally correct. God does not hate “queer people,” God hates sin. We cannot water down or soften the truth. On a day that marks the recognition of personal accountability to sin how can anyone celebrate? I guess if Satan can distract attention with shiny objects he will.
"Even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." Joel 2:12-18
Serving the Savior
No one has commented on this page yet.