A few years ago, I had a busy day of pastoral care visits and it happened to be Ash Wednesday. I had calls at one of the hospitals, as well as one of the local rehab. centers. I don’t always wear my collar, but I remember wearing it that day and here’s why.
As I waited at the rehab center elevator with a few others, a woman arrived in a long skirt, white collared shirt and a brown shawl — she was carrying a small bowl. She asked all of us if we would like to receive ashes. I said “No thanks, I’m actually here to offer the same, to some of our members.” She swung around in the other direction saying nothing.
I went on to my visits — two of our members that were there; one received ashes from me, the other did not. As I jumped back on the elevator, a priest in all his glorious vestments was already on the elevator. The door closed and it was just the two of us. He smiled and said, “How’s your day going?” I sighed and said, “busy”. He said “yes, for us too and we have more services to go.” “Yes, us too” I said. With Easter enthusiasm, he quipped “Yes, but you never know who is going to be transformed
this year! Even a drunk who has fallen off the wagon for the tenth time has hope in this season!” His words lit me
up brighter than his yellow mozzetta (the shawl worn over the robe).
Indeed, instantly I knew he was right. I also knew in that moment that God was reminding me of the power of God’s desire to redeem and renew us all. I also knew that God was reminding me that God is caring even for my dearest friend’s son, who, had fallen off the wagon after his fourth attempt at alcohol rehab.
There will always be those who will either ignore or judge our choice to follow that Lenten path that we choose for ourselves. There will always be those who are not yet ready to publicly enter into the Lenten experience but there are those who want to companion us on the way, wherever we are.
This year the leadership of this church has designed numerous ways to share the Lenten journey with you, wherever you are. We begin Lent with our modern and meaningful Ash Wednesday Service.
We’ve also added some new and wonderful opportunities to deepen your experience. Check out our Lenten Devotional written by members and staff of our church. It is available in print and on-line for your daily Lenten reflections. We’ve also created Lenten Wednesday programs called “Bearing Fruit for Lent” — for those who want to grow in their faith and understanding in a less formal way. The program is each Wednesday evening from March 8 through April 12 between 7–8PM.
Each week will feature an experiential theme that ties into the Word; from tea tasting, to movement and music, poetry, and a film/book discussion of the Shack and even a pizza party to end a day of fasting! (See page 6 for more details). We will also feature a segment in worship called “Who is Jesus to you?”; personal witnesses from the perspectives of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John The Baptist, Martha and Mary and Mary Magdalene.
I deeply pray that you will intentionally try at least one new practice this Lent. I deeply pray that you will find again or discover for the first time that Lent doesn’t have to be solely a time of assessing our sinfulness. It can be a time of letting go, stretching and getting back on the path to freedom; freedom that can only be found in living out our lives as redeemed Tekna Theou (children of God).