Maybe you have seen the announcements or flyers about the upcoming event we are calling “Ash Bash.” You have asked yourself, “What on earth is an Ash Bash?” The purpose for this article is to give you a little more information. Let’s start with some background:
The liturgical church calendar begins with the first Sunday of Advent - four Sundays before Christmas - usually late November or early December. The church year continues through the life of Christ with Epiphany (visit of the Magi), his presentation in the temple, his baptism, eventually leading up to the period known as Lent. Just as Advent is a time to prepare ourselves for receiving the Christ child at his birth, Lent is a time to prepare our hearts to comprehend the events of his death.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and continues for forty days of fasting and six Sundays (days of feasting), culminating on Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. Ash Wednesday and Lent are solemn observances marked by prayer, penitence, self-denial, giving to the poor, and fasting. Lent is typically observed in Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox, and Catholic denominations. Some Evangelical denominations observe Lent, but more as a recognition of and preparation for the events leading up to Easter.
Ash Wednesday - the first day of Lent - has a non-Christian origin that was first accepted into the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in the 4th century. It is preceded by something called Strove Tuesday. Also known as Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, this day (more often, several days) is marked by gorging and indulging in all manner of things that one must soon “give up” for Lent.
I am struck by the stark contrast between indulgence and the absence of conscience and self-control marked by Mardi Gras, and the somber, self-denying of Lent. It begs the question: what honors (or dishonors) Christ the most? Our sinful celebrations or our penitent suffering? Which is the true nature of humans and which is vain hypocrisy? How do we engage with our hearts in this season and not just make a show through changing our outward behavior?
That brings us back to the Ash Bash. We all learn differently. We all have different levels of experience and understanding of biblical and church traditions. Ash Bash is an opportunity for children, youth, families, and people of all walks and ages, to share an experience of “shameless indulgence and greedy pursuits” that opens our hearts to the truth that Jesus calls us to - a transformed heart marked by a sincere change of behavior. This is a lot to accomplish in a couple of hours, and I don’t want to give too much away, but what we learn by experience and later reflection, locks in learning and transformation more certainly than any talk or text book.
I hope you are intrigued. I hope you will consider participating whether you normally show up to Central on a Wednesday evening or not. I hope you will invite someone to join you - nothing like sharing the experience with someone else to stimulate discussion and further lock in the learning. Make this Lent season one you won’t soon forget!
Details: Wednesday, March 6, 5:30-8:00p.m.
Super Supper Taco Night: 5:30-6:30. Includes an ice cream sundae bar!
Ash Bash activities will begin promptly at 6:30 and end at 8:00p.m.
Open to ages K-99! Regular nursery and activity time for infants-preK.
Thanks for reading!
In the peace of Christ,