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