Area churches will join Christians around the world as they begin the holy season of Lent with Ash Wednesday services.

Lent is a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. The 40 days represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

In the Christian faith, it is viewed as a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter.

“On one Wednesday each year, the church gathers to mark the beginning of the season of Lent by placing ashes in the form of a cross on the forehead of each believer,” the Rev. Dyan Dietz, pastor of Lakeway United Methodist Church in Pottsboro, said. “This ‘dust and ashes’ is an ancient symbol of humanity and is a reminder that we are imperfect, fallible and mortal.”

Dietz and her congregants will renew this time honored act of worship when they gather Wednesday for the imposition of ashes.

“We begin the season of Lent in this way to remind us that this is a season of self-reflection,” Dietz said. “It is a time when we consider how well we have been representing Christ in the world.”

From the very beginning of the church, Christians were persecuted by civil authority,” the Very Rev. Donald Perschall, rector of St. Lukes Episcopal Church in Denison, said. “It was difficult for them to let others know that they were practitioners. So, in those early times, they would simply trace a cross across their forehead as a way of saying, ‘I’m a Christian.’”

Perschall added that as subtle as this silent “hailing sign” was, it carried with it an element of danger during those earliest of Christian beginnings. By the sixth century, ashes had been added as a sign of humility and penance. The ritual of their imposition was adopted as a meaningful way to start the season of Lent.

“Christians recognizing the need to get ready for Easter, ‘to make a good Lent,’ would subject themselves, in humility, to bow, kneel and receive the sign of Jesus on their forehead,” Perschall said. “We say in our burial rite, ‘From dust you have come; to dust you will return.’ And, that is repeated on Ash Wednesday as the ashes are placed on one’s forehead.”

Perschall stressed the important role that Ash Wednesday plays in the keeping of Lent and the celebration of Easter as well.

“What we aim for is how to keep a good Lent, and we have a good Lent by having a good start,” Perschall said. “For us to celebrate the Resurrection, we have to go through not only Holy Week, and all of its terror, but we also have to prepare our hearts and minds during Lent. Jesus himself said, ‘Rend your heart, and not your garments,’ (Joel 2:13) It’s your heart, getting your heart ready.”

The following Ash Wednesday services will be held.

Lakeway United Methodist Church

POTTSBORO — An Ash Wednesday service will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The church is located at 15015 N. State Hwy. 2889.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

DENISON — Ash Wednesday services will be held at 8:30 a.m., noon, and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The church is located at 427 W. Woodard in Denison.

St. Mary’s Catholic Parish

SHERMAN — Ash Wednesday mass and distribution of ashes will be held at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., and 6 p.m. Wednesday at St. Mary’s Church.

Ash Wednesday mass and distribution of ashes will be held in Spanish at 6 p.m. Wednesday at St. Anne’s Church.

St. Mary’s Church is located at 727 S. Travis in Sherman. St. Anne’s Catholic Church is located across the street at 728 S. Travis.

Virginia Point United Methodist Church

SAVOY — An Ash Wednesday service will be held at 6 p.m.

The church is located north of Savoy/Bells at 1386 County Road 1200.

Leap of Faith Church

Ashes on head or hand and communion are offered from 7:30-9 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday at the Java Stop Cafe. Those interested are invited to “come and go” during those times and may purchase breakfast or lunch if desired.

The Java Stop Cafe is located at 5700 N. FM 1417 in Sherman, at the corner of FM 1417 and Highway 691.

St. Patrick Catholic Church

DENISON — Ash Wednesday mass and distribution of ashes will be held at noon and 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The church is located at 314 N. Rusk Avenue in Denison.

St. John’s Episcopal Church

POTTSBORO — Ash Wednesday services with Holy Communion will be held at noon and 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Friendship Methodist Church

SHERMAN — An Ash Wednesday service will be held at 6:30 p.m.

The church is located at 293 Friendship Road in Sherman.

Trinity Lutheran Church

SHERMAN — A soup supper will be served at 6 p.m. followed by a worship service at 7 p.m. Wednesday.