Ash Wednesday in the Black Hills
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Lent is a 40 day commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry. During this time, Christians are encouraged to reflect and prepare for Easter celebrations, and to use the time to fast from food and festivities. The Lent season is preceded by Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, which is a day of celebration and a final opportunity for participants to feast and participate in those things they are giving up for Lent.
The next day, Ash Wednesday, officially starts Lent, and is a holy day of prayer and fasting. Parishioners use this time to gather at local churches, pray, and use ashes to draw crosses on their foreheads. The ashes used are made from palm leaves from the previous Palm Sunday and are burned and crushed into a fine powder. They have been in use since ancient times to express grief and sorry for sins and faults.
Calvary Lutheran Church and many churches across the country held Ash Wednesday services and hold many different opinions on what to do during Lent. Some, like Father Mark Horn of Terra Sancta, believe giving things up can bring someone closer to God,
“All of the disciplines we do with the ashes, with fasting, with abstaining from meat, disciplining our bodies, not giving ourselves the normal pleasures that we’re used to — it’s an outward way of internally coming home to God.”
Others such as Deacon Tom Martin and LaNice Archer of Calvary Lutheran Church believe it is not necessary to give anything up, and that they should be leading Christian lives everyday.
“This year I’m not giving up anything for Lent, I normally don’t do that. Instead I try to focus on something I can gain, and kind of going off of today’s sermon, I have decided that instead of saying I have to do this, I’m gonna say I get to do this. So it’s a mental change.”
Lent will end during the three days leading to Easter, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. During the 40 days, Calvary Lutheran will be holding noon services every Wednesday, with a light lunch afterwards.