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February 25th, 2009

Ash Wednesday – A Wakeup Call

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Ash Wednesday marks the first day or the start of the season of Lent which begins 40 days prior to Easter.

Lent is a time when we prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. During Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers.

Not all Christian churches observe Ash Wednesday or Lent. They are mostly observed by the Roman Catholics, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations.

Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday and Ash Wednesday is not observed.

The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in  – – – 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3;

Meaning and purpose of Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is a wake-up call. Ash Wednesday hits us squarely between the eyes, forcing us to face mortality and sinfulness. We hear Scripture readings that are urgent and vivid. We have black ashes rubbed into our foreheads. We recite a Litany of Penitence that takes our breath away, or should. It is a tough day, but take heart! This is one religious day that won.t fall into the clutches of retailers. There aren.t any Hallmark cards celebrating sin and death; no shop windows are decked out with sackcloth and ashes.

On Ash Wednesday we come to church to kneel, to pray, and to ask God’s forgiveness, surrounded by other sinners. Human sin is universal; we all do it, not only Christians. But our church tradition sets aside Ash Wednesday as a particular day to address sin and death. We do this mindful that “God hates nothing God has made and forgives the sins of all who are penitent.” We are ALL sinners, no better and no worse than our brothers and sisters. This is not a day to compete (“my sins are worse than yours are”), but to confess..

Ash Wednesday is the gateway to Lent.We have forty precious days to open ourselves up most particularly to God, to examine ourselves in the presence of one who created us, knows us, and loves us. We have forty days to face ourselves and learn to not be afraid of our sinfulness. We are dust, and to dust we shall return, but with God’s grace we can learn to live this life more fully, embracing our sinfulness, allowing God to transform us.

– – – The Rev. Margaret Jones – from “Ash Wednesday : A Wake-up Call”

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Why Ashes on Ash Wednesday? Why did we start observing Lent? *

February 24th, 2009

10 Reasons To Believe In The Christian Faith

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Here are the top ten reasons to believe in the christian faith…

1. The Credibility of Its Founder: Peter spoke for Jesus’ closest followers when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)

2. Reliability of Its Book: The integrity of this historical and geographical record is supported by archeology. The Bible continues to speak not only with spiritual power but with convincing prophetic accuracy.

3. Explanations for Life: It is the Christian faith that reflects a caring attention to detail so evident in the species and ecosystems of the natural world. It is Christ who clothed himself in our humanity to feel what we feel and then to suffer and die in our place.

4. Its Continuity with the Past: The Christian faith offers continuity with our deepest ancestral roots. Those who trust Christ are accepting the same Creator and Lord worshiped by Adam, Abraham, and Solomon.

5. Its Foundational Claim: The first Christians were witnesses. They risked their lives to tell the World that with their own eyes they had seen an innocent man die and then miraculously walk among them 3 days later.

6. Its Power to Change Lives: Not only were the first disciples dramatically changed but so were their worst enemies. Paul was transformed from a killer of Christians into one of their chief advocates (Galatians 1:11-24)

7. Its Analysis of Human Nature: The Bible says that society’s real problems are problems of the heart. In an age of information and technology, failures of character have scandalized institutions of the family, religion, and the arts.

8. Its View of Human Achievement: Generation after generation has hoped for the best. We have conceived technologies that will deliver us from the oppressive slavery of work. Yet we are as close as ever to what the New Testament describes as the end times. (Matthew 24:5-31)

9. Its Impact on Society: From roof tops to necklaces to earrings, we see the sign of the cross, bearing visible witness to Christ’s death. Social relief agencies have been fueled by the direct or residual values of The Bible.

10. Its Offer of Salvation: No other faith offers everlasting life as a gift to those who trust the One who has overcome death for them. No other system offers assurance of forgiveness and adoption into the family of God.

February 21st, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI Pics 03

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Take a look at another set of 20 pictures of Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Alois Ratzinger on 16 April 1927, is the 265th and reigning Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church, and as such, Sovereign of the Vatican City State.

He teaches the importance for the Catholic Church and for humanity of contemplating God’s sacrificial love and has reaffirmed the “importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work.”

Pope Benedict was also the founder and patron of the Ratzinger Foundation, a charitable organisation which makes money from the sale of books and essays written by the Pope, in order to fund scholarships and bursaries for students across the world.

Want more pics of our Pope ?

Pope Benedict XVI Pics – Set 01

Pope Benedict XVI Pics – Set 02

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