Local churches help Christians begin Lent season on Ash Wednesday

Published 9:08 am Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Chances are at 10 a.m. Ash Wednesday you’ll see the Rev. Andrew McLarty of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer somewhat close to his church on 230 W Monticello, but not exactly there.

He might just be on the corner or you’ll notice him by his vestments as he is “popping around looking for foot traffic and any populous area” where someone might be looking for ashes to start the season of Lent.

Lent is a solemn period of time to reflect on our lives and to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Father Andrew said he simply wants to make it as easy as possible for those wanting to prepare for the celebration of coming Easter. “We prepare our hearts and minds for the gift of Easter,” he said of the beginning of Lent. “It goes back into Genesis, whereas Adam and Eve were formed out of clay, out of ashes. [The use of] ashes helps us kickoff a season of introspection on the 40 days that Jesus was in the wilderness.”

Traditions vary a bit among religions, but Lent is a series of events between Ash Wednesday and Easter, the time of the resurrection.

“It’s not like a New Year’s resolution,” the reverend said of the common way some Christians “give up” something at Lent. “The time of Lent is to find a way to focus on your intentional living; to ask yourself ‘how can I live my life more intentionally?’”

He added that though many Christians give up a food item, others might give up joyous words as they do in his church, like “hallelujah,” while still others might actually add something, like dedicating a time of silent meditation or to reading a devotional for 10 minutes every evening. “It’s to prepare yourself emotionally and spiritually for the big celebration of Easter,” he said.

Lent hearkens back to the ideas of prayer, fasting and alms giving. Sacrifice and temptation were things that Jesus faced from Satan in the wilderness. Jesus renounced the riches Satan promised, using Bible verses to prove his devotion to his Father.

The goal of Lent, then, is to aid Christians in turning to reflection to better understand their faith. During this time, Christians might put aside foods they love or events they enjoy by turning toward prayer and the Bible to fill those needs instead.

In case you can’t meet Father Andrew on the corner, you can still attend church instead: A short service will be at noon and a longer full Eucharist service will be held at 6 p.m at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. Both will include ashes.

St. Francis of Assisi Church, 227 E. Cherokee Street, will hold Ash Wednesday mass at 12:10 and 6 p.m., and both will include distribution of ashes.

First United Methodist Church will hold a traditional Ash Wednesday service at 5:30 p.m. at its location on 215 W Cherokee.

New Hope United Methodist Church, 2216 Highway 550 NW, will hold its Ash Wednesday service at 6 p.m.