Billericay Methodist Church celebrates Ash Wednesday in a small Ashing Service at which we observe the traditions of the church and celebrate the beginning of Lent. This year the service is on 26th February at Western Road Methodist Church at 7.30pm.
Ash Wednesday is traditionally a day of fasting and is the first day of the season of Lent, which precedes Easter. In modern times Christians (and others) do not practice a strict fast but may give something up for Lent – such as chocolate. This fasting reflects the fasting of Jesus in the wilderness, which lasted 40 days and where Jesus was tempted by the devil. Of course, Lent lasts 46 days (count them!), which confuses some people. However, Christians believe that it is not appropriate to fast on a Sunday as it is a weekly reminder of Jesus’s resurrection and so, as there are six Sundays in Lent, the season lasts 46 days to allow for 40 fasting days.
The “Ash” in Ash Wednesday comes from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday, and placing them on the heads of worshippers to mark the beginning of Lent. The ashes themselves are symbols of penitence, used in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and used on Ash Wednesday at the beginning of the penitential season of Lent.