Chapel discusses importance of Ash Wednesday, Lent

Dr. Burt Burleson, Baylor’s University Chaplain/Dean of Spiritual Life spoke on the meaning and significance of Ash Wednesday in Chapel. Claire Boston | Multimedia Journalist

By Lexi Donnel | Reporter

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

This phrase is heard by people all around the world on Ash Wednesday as ashes are drawn in the shape of a cross on their forehead. Dr. Burt Burleson, Baylor’s University Chaplain/Dean of Spiritual Life and Dr. Ryan Richardson, Director of Worship & Chapel/Associate Chaplain spoke on the meaning and significance of Ash Wednesday in Chapel.

Ash Wednesday happens 46 days before Easter. Richardson introduced Wednesday’s chapel by announcing it was Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the season of Lent.

“Lent, during these next several weeks is a time when Christians become extra intentional about following Christ, and paying attention to the journey he makes into Jerusalem, and then on to his death,” Richardson said.

“Often called the Day of Ashes, Ash Wednesday starts Lent by focusing the Christian’s heart on repentance and prayer, usually through personal and communal confession. This happens during a special Ash Wednesday service,” says.

Richardson said that a very important aspect of Ash Wednesday is repentance and self-reflection, in which Christians find out who they really are. According to Richardson, everyone is a sinner and finite. He said that becoming whole starts with remembering you are dust. Richardson said Christians around the world will have ashes on their forehead to show their need for repentance and their desire to follow Christ.

“I hope you will join God’s church today and with our community of faith here at Baylor on Ash Wednesday as we decide together to follow Christ,” Richardson said.

Burleson said he has observed Ash Wednesday for 25 years. Known to some as a Catholic tradition, Burleson said growing up a Baptist, he was unfamiliar with Ash Wednesday. He listed two reasons the tradition is important to him.

The first reason is the present post denominational era. Because of this, Burleson noticed in his adult life that Christians were listening and learning from one another. He said the ways Christians worshipped began to change and the way they thought about theology started to strengthen. Burleson said that somewhere during these changes he started participating in Ash Wednesday.

“You begin to realize how limited words are, all the things we say, and we begin looking for other ways of saying things or experience things,” Burleson said. “At some point we know how words are inadequate to get to the things that are so eternal.”

Lent is observed by Christians around the globe who use the season for self-reflection. Christians who participate in Lent voluntarily surrender an aspect of their lives for 40 days in an effort to strengthen their relationship with God. Popular Lent sacrifices include types of food, technology, habits and alcoholic beverages.