NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, March 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Earlier this week you may have noticed a neighbor or coworker with a dark smudge on their forehead. Millions of believers around the world marked the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday.
EICHER: Each year many mainline Protestants and Catholics take the sign of the cross on their foreheads in ash—and a growing number of evangelicals are embracing the practice as well. During Wheaton College chapel this week, chaplain Timothy Blackmon explained the reason for ashes:
BLACKMON: The ashy cross on your head let’s everyone know you’re going to die. As you bow your head to receive the sign of death, you will hear the words: “repent and believe the gospel.” You can think of Ash Wednesday as the beginning of a 40-day journey to Easter. This is the season we call “Lent.” … 40 days to repent and believe the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners and was raised for our justification.
REICHARD: Episcopal Dean Randy Hollerith delivered the homily on Wednesday at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. He preached on the meaning of these 40 days leading to Easter:
HOLLERITH: Do you know what “Lent” means? It is an old word for spring. Lent is the spring in the yearly cycle of our spiritual lives. It’s the time when we are supposed to dig up and turn over the soil of our souls. It is the time when we’re supposed to pull weeds and cast out all the dead growth of the things that hold on from the long winter…So that the new life of Christ found in the empty tomb of Easter can take root in us…
EICHER: Whether you commemorate the season of Lent or whether you don’t, in Romans 14 the Apostle Paul reminds us that our lives belong to God, and those who honor days or fasts should do so to the Lord. And those who abstain from such observances should also do so to the Lord. Meaning all of us benefit from the encouragement to consider our daily walk, repent of our failings, and receive God’s forgiveness.
REICHARD: We end today’s program with a musical meditation from Psalm 51. Sung here by Marty Haugen and David Haas.