Q. Why are so many Protestant churches doing Ash Wednesday when this is a sacrament instituted by the Catholic church. Does it have a bigger meaning than we Protestants know about?
A. Ash Wednesday is an extra-biblical tradition that began in the Catholic Church in the 6th century. Today it’s observed in some Protestant churches as well. People observe it as a sign of their mortality, and a recognition of their need to repent of their sins. In most churches it marks the beginning of Lent, another extra Biblical tradition that began two centuries earlier, where for the 46 days leading up to Easter Sunday people observe a time of moderation or self-denial as a reminder of our need to repent of our sins. Neither Ash Wednesday nor Lent was observed by the early church, and they are not mentioned in the Bible. They are two of the many man made religious traditions that have sprung up over the centuries.