Lent Day 2: Lent Experiential Calendar

Our church, inspired by Mars Hill, is going through Lent together via a series of small experiences.  Each week, there is a theme of either “giving up” or “taking up” something.  Seeing as I have severely lapsed in blogging since my Xanga days, I thought I’d use this opportunity to “take up” blogging again and document my journey through Lent.  Please return to track with me in the coming days…

lent 2013 graphic

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.