Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ash Wednesday One Week Out

I continue to think about Ash Wednesday.  Our service was profoundly moving to me this year, and I'm not sure which part spoke to me most profoundly.  I continue to marvel at how much this service has come to mean to me.

I was one of the ash smudgers.  I love being an ash smudger, much the same way I love being a Communion assistant.  Some might tell me that the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me something, and that may be the case.  However, I don't like a lot of other parts of being parish pastor.  Worship planning?  Love it.  Dealing with building issues?  Blick.  Spiritual directing?  Love it.  Dealing with difficult humans?  Blick.

I smudged each forehead at the back of the church, and when we were done, I walked to the altar with my little pot of ashes.  I turned to go back to my seat and felt breathless at the sight of the whole sanctuary full of smudged foreheads.

We are a marked people.

We had a huge turn-out for Ash Wednesday.  We had more people at our evening Ash Wednesday service than we get for some of our Sunday services.

We had a visiting pastor deliver the sermon.  It made me a bit nervous, but he did a fine job.  He stressed that we cannot do it on our own.  We are a sinful people who cannot save ourselves.  This thought infuriated me when I was younger.  Now I find it immensely comforting.

Our church handed out sheets of paper that looked like pledge sheets, where we wrote down our Lenten disciplines.  At one point, the ushers collected them into a huge basket and brought them to the altar, where they were blessed.  Then we took them home at the end of the service.

I had thought I wouldn't have a Lenten discipline this year, but I'd like to give up worry and fretting.  I've also been thinking about my tithing--tax time gives me a great time to find out exactly what I've been doing, in terms of giving money away.  I still have work to do in this area, and I think it's an area with roots in my excessive worry and anxiety.  Some years I have done a great job in trusting God to provide for me.  Lately, I've felt clutchy about money and resources and the behavior of people I love.  Oh, Control Freak Kristin, it's time to work on quieting you.

So, I signed the pledge sheet.  Let us see what happens.  I will have a Lenten discipline after all.

My pastor is going off lectionary for Lent, so perhaps I'll write additional meditations for Lent.  I'm also creating a prayer chapel space out of a small choir practice room in the back of the church.  I will have Lenten practices after all.

If you're still looking for suggestions to infuse your Lent with meaning, go to this post for 40 suggestions. 

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