I am writing this on Ash Wednesday, a few hours the after special noon service on the day that begins our season of Lent. Here we begin the long 40+ day pilgrimage of preparation when we remember and live into the stories of Jesus that lead us through our daily struggles and into the new life we call Easter.
Rev. Linda McDermott, after an amusing introduction referring to a new app called “We Croak” (which gives daily reminders about our human vulnerability and that we are all going to die), led us into a deep and profound meditation before the imposition of ashes and a time of solemn humility. The traditional Ash Wednesday reminder that all life is fragile and limited — symbolized by the imposition of ashes by making a dark cross on the forehead of participants — was beautifully led by several of our clergy.
This year, however, there was a blessing with words of affirmation beneath our fragility, and it was immediately followed by a time for healing when we dipped our hand in holy water, touched our forehead, and remembered our baptism. (So soon after the special called General Conference in St. Louis last week that left many feeling broken and disconnected, this was a welcome, much-needed addition for healing.) We were also each given a laminated card as a daily reminder to place near a bath, shower or sink in our home, to remind us of this prayer:
Let this water wash over
me, reminding me of my
baptism. By Your grace,
let the water renew me
and refresh me, as Your
love renews and refreshes
me daily. May all I do
today honor You. Amen.
(Ask for a card at the church if you weren’t able to get this prayer card on Ash Wednesday.) In a deep and powerful way, we are all invited to begin this season of Lent by remembering that “We Are All God’s People,” and called to “be God’s people in the world.”
As I read slowly over the prayer card, I am reminded of what I wrote last year at the beginning of Lent. It’s all about seeing ourselves and others, through God’s loving and transforming Presence. It is that awareness of God’s truly awesome Presence that transforms our senses and our lives. With the Wisdom of humble gratitude, ongoing renewal, and the power of compassion, our whole life becomes a pilgrimage with Jesus the Christ all around us and deep within.
As we move through the Lenten Season in this time of uncertainty, let us reconnect to our deepest source, and let us live into our deepest questions: Who are we? How are we called to be with one another? What is our work?
Let us create a place of grace from which the field of the future begins to arise.
As we move through our Lenten Journey, the theme and scripture of each week will help us both remember and newly discover who we are and whose we are… through death and beyond…
Blessings on you Lenten Pilgrimage,
Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation