LOGAN, W.Va. — The Logan Ministerial Association is a very active group of ministers and laity in Logan that are trying to unite the community to show God’s love and understanding. They are passionate about nurturing Believers so that we together can help be the light for those in darkness. The Ministerial Association is striving to be a lighthouse for those that have safety needs in the times of stormy weather in their life.
Several of the Ministerial Association churches will gather together to celebrate the beginning of the Lenten season where we prepare ourselves for Jesus Christ’s journey to the cross as well as our own. A multi-denominational Ash Wednesday service will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 10. Participating churches are 1st Christian Church (pastor Rev. Andy Wade); 1st Presbyterian Church (pastor Rev. Jim Musgrave); Abundant Life Worship (pastor Rev. Gary Wilson); Nighbert Memorial United Methodist, and Holy Trinity Episcopal (pastor Rev. George Kostas).
Ashes are what is left over after something has been burned, not just burned, but all the energy consumed out of something. How did ashes, something we view as garbage, come to play an important role in the church? How did the Bible view “ashes”? The word “aphar” means both dust and ashes. It is used in Gen. 2 – God formed the man from the “aphar” of the earth. It has a good connotation to it. From this point, “aphar” takes on a darker connotation. In Gen. 3, the fall of mankind results in this declaration – for dust you are and to dust you shall return. Dust was a sign of mortality that has blighted humanity since the fall. It was also a sign of sadness, humility, repentance. Jonah preached to Nineveh and the King of Nineveh put on sackcloth and sat in ashes as a sign of repentance, changing the heart of God with his appeal. Job was similar, as God questions Job, Job repents in sackcloth and ashes. Repentance was viewed in Scripture as a “return” a homecoming.
The tradition of ashes didn’t start until around 900 AD. In ancient times any external marking was a sign of who once belonged to. The cross on the forehead let everyone know I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Just as important as the cross was what was used to make it – wood, that would one day be ash, or dust.
The ash was designed to remind the Christian of two things:
First, our mortality – from dust we came and to dust we return. The ash reminds us that life is short and precious, and a day is coming when we are going to stand face to face with our Creator and give an account for the deeds done in the flesh.
Second, humility – the ash reminds us to come before God with a humble, repentant heart. There is nothing we can do on our own to save ourselves.
Ash Wednesday is a bittersweet day. We are reminded of our mortality and our sinfulness, but that is not the end of the story. The smudge of the cross reminds us of what God has done for us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, the forty day period leading up to the observance of the death of Jesus. It is usually a time for us to give up something temporarily – maybe a delicious food we like too much, or a habit we hope to break. Let us go beyond that to true repentance, return to God, not temporarily, but permanently – make Him Lord of every aspect of your life. Let him take control and remove the darkness, so that we can be more like him. We won’t need the sign of the cross for people to know that we are followers of Jesus Christ.
They will know by the lives we live.
All people and all churches are welcome to attend.
Rev. Thomas Beckette is pastor of Nighbert Memorial United Methodist Church and chairman of the Logan Ministerial Assocation.