Worshippers participated in Ash Wednesday services at many Lincoln County churches this week, marking the start of the Christian Lenten season.
Nearly 100 people received ashes in a cross formation on their foreheads during a service at First United Methodist in Lincolnton.
“Itâ€™s the beginning of our journey of 40 days â€¦ a day of repentance,” said the Rev. David Wyant, who pastors the church. In celebration of the 2012 Community Lenten Service, Wyant joined pastors from four other area churches for a luncheon, sermon and imposition of ashes.
The Community Lenten Service also kicks-off the churchâ€™s annual Lenten series, which has been around nearly three decades. A specific topic is assigned to the series, and each week a different message is preached on that topic. This year, the series will focus on the last seven words of Christ.
Wyant noted that the series is for anyone seeking direction, healing, or wholeness in life.
“Lentâ€™s a time of cleansing and looking inward,” he said.
According to the Rev. Miles Smith of St. Lukeâ€™s Episcopal Church, all Christian denominations can celebrate the season.
“Regardless of your faith, it makes us aware that weâ€™re mortal,” he said.
Smith delivered the eventâ€™s message, pointing out how the Lenten seasonâ€™s focus on death should make Christians want to make the most of their lives. He said that each day people should surrender control of their lives and practice thankfulness, forgiveness and love.
Smith hoped that before exiting the fellowship hall Wednesday, attendants would remember “to stop a moment and wake up â€¦ to the good living” available to them.
Lincolnton resident Betty Beaver praised the event, which sheâ€™s attended since its commencement.
“The food is good; the fellowship is good; and the messages are always excellent,” she said. Sheâ€™s especially fond of the fact that she gets to hear a variety of area pastors preach throughout the Lenten series.
For Diane Hames, who also resides in Lincolnton and is a seasoned attendant of the Ash Wednesday service, the event is a spiritual motivator.
“It just gets me started off right,” she said, “and the little meditations are meaningful, especially for this time of year. This is really good for the community.”
The Rev. Michael Collins of Emmanuel Lutheran Church agreed with Hames.
“Itâ€™s a significant event for the community to worship together,” he said. Collins pointed out how some Christian traditions are more familiar than others with the topic of Lent. He also noted the spiritual significance of bearing the sign of the cross and displaying oneâ€™s faith out in the community.
First Baptist Church and St. Dorothyâ€™s Catholic Church also participated in the event.