I am all conflicted about the start of Lent. Next week is Ash Wednesday and I have struggled figuring out what to do. In the spirit of Lenten confession I'm going to lay out for you the dilemma. We usually hold a worship service on Ash Wednesday evening that includes the marking of ashes. This has always had a very small, but dedicated, following. The primary participation is from the choir as they need to be there that night. We have discussed various options for the service, but have kept up doing the same for those who value it. This year we have a problem (this is the embarrassing part)–Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine's Day. I understand that this is not a big holiday for everyone, and for some is a sad day, but it does complicate our planning as we anticipate additional competition for the allegiance of our members. And, we don't want to force people (i.e. choir) to come out when it is difficult for their families.
The Diaconate decided that this convergence of days presents us an opportunity to try something different this year. So we will not have our traditional Ash Wednesday evening worship service. In it's place we will do the following:
- This Sunday, February 11, we focus on the symbolism of ashes and the importance of Lent as a preparation for the Lenten season.
- On Ash Wednesday, February 14, I will be available throughout the day (8:00 AM-3:00 PM) for anyone to come to the church for prayer and the marking of ashes
- Also, on Ash Wednesday, I will hold brief prayer services (15 minutes) in the sanctuary at 8:00 AM and at noon for anyone who would like to join me and receive ashes.
We hope that this will actually increase the number of people who will participate in Ash Wednesday–either through their own prayers at home, or at the church.
I do hope that you will join us for this important tradition. I also hope that you will give me, and the Deacons, feedback on what you think is the best way to mark the beginning of Lent. We really want to hear from our members as we plan for future services.
See you in church,