Lent Day 1 – Getting Ashed

While most people will be out gettin’ smashed, I’ll be out gettin’ ashed. #ashwednesday #catholic
— @hillbill23

Attended my first Ash Wednesday Service today, which is somewhat embarrassing considering that I’ve been a pastor for over 10 years now.  But I’m an evangelical – so you will please excuse my ignorance.

The service was small at our local Episcopalian church.  Most were women; I was one of 3 men present.  And by far, one of the youngest.

I’ve come to enjoy the pull of liturgy, so I was pretty comfortable.  Many people say they like praying “with the Church.”  I don’t like that phrase because by “the Church” – it really signifies primarily the Church of the Western tradition, and even then, primarily more specifically within the high church community (read: elite) — unless, of course, we’re praying the Psalms.  But what I’ve come appreciate instead about liturgy is the feeling of being led, of praying prayers that I would probably not have thought to pray myself, of reading Scriptures that I did not choose my own, and to be so thorough and overtly immersed in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit.  I lose myself in God in liturgy.

When the time came to receive the Cross, I was anxious, unsure of the thoughts and emotions I’d have.  But when I finally received the ashen Cross on my forehead, I was imprinted with a sense of humility and creatureliness.  From ash I came, to ash I will return.  A scarlet letter, of sorts, a reminder of my sinful self, but instead of before a shaming public, before a holy yet gracious God.

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