Next Wednesday, February 10, 7:00 pm, All Saints East Dallas will gather for Ash Wednesday. It will be a powerful time together in God’s presence as we begin the season of Lent.
My very first Ash Wednesday service was mystical, confusing, and the beginning of a revelatory journey. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, and the service itself focuses on our mortality, the reality that you and I and every person who has ever lived will die. It brings this focus to bear, however, in the light of God’s great mercy.
But this first Ash Wednesday was particularly mystical because I was moved by the sobriety of the service in a space that was normally marked by life and playfulness in God’s presence. And, it wasn’t a put on sobriety or stuffiness. It was an appropriate time to be still, serious, to listen, and wait for the Lord.
Not only was I mystified by these seeming contradictory realities at play in the church, I was also confused. The Gospel lesson for Ash Wednesday is from Matthew 6 where Jesus says don’t fast like the Pharisees who cover themselves with ashes and go about mourning in public. Isn’t it odd, I thought, that we’re putting ashes on ourselves just after we’ve read Jesus’ words not to? More on this next week.
And, this mystifying, confusing service also began a journey of listening to God that would change the course of my life. That night I decided I wouldn’t fast per se, or give something up, as is popularly done. Instead I would take something on. I would spend time each day - and in the season as a whole - listening to God. What was his direction for my life? Why had he just moved my family and me to Florida? Why?
God answered me powerfully, and I’ll share that in next week’s newsletter.
I hope to see you soon. You’re in my prayers -