Today is one of the most important holy days in the Christian liturgical calendar.
It is the day which opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer.
Ash Wednesday takes place 40 days before Easter Sunday and is observed by many Christians, especially from mainline traditional churches, throughout the world.
“Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting,” Lorna Charles, spokesperson for the Diakonia council of churches’ Good Friday Service, said.
“The practice includes the marking of ashes on a congregant’s forehead. The ashes symbolise the dust from which God made human-beings. Priests would apply the ashes to a person’s forehead while saying: ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return’.”
Christians are invited to increase their prayer, to fast and focus on their private meditation.
They are called to observe this season of Lent with self-examination and repentance, by prayer, reflection, abstemiousness and reading their Bible.
Typically, Christians choose to give up something they enjoy for the duration of Lent.
Lent is also the period that Christians use to prepare themselves for the death of Jesus Christ commemorated annually on Good Friday – this year on March 30 – and for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ with special acts of repentance and faith.
The end of Lent is marked by a Good Friday service – often celebrated at dawn.
The Diakonia Council of Churches will present its annual ecumenical Good Friday service on Friday, March 30, starting at the Durban Exhibition Centre at 5 am before proceeding – in silence – through the streets of the city, to the Durban City Hall.
The theme this year is “Do Not Fear, Stand Firm”. Entry is free and all are welcome.
PUBLISHED IN THE POST NEWSPAPER
14 FEBRUARY 2018