Well, it’s been a minute since I popped on the blogosphere. Life has certainly been crazy – my job picked up pretty significantly, my old apartment has been extra cranky, and my mind is whirring with all the things.
Cool things from February:
- first Winter Retreat with my middle school youth group was a success!
- co-led our Elder and Consistory meetings due to Steven’s absence
- hosted a Ladies Night fundraiser, and became the last minute speaker (obvi I took a stab at the Proverbs 31 woman)
- spent lots of time crafting a schedule that prioritizes self-care / exercise
Last night we launched into Lent at North Holland with a small Ash Wednesday service. I have a lot to do this week (another fundraiser on Saturday, preaching Sunday, Children at the Table / Profession of Faith Classes to organize..), so my spirit was not ready for God to move.
[thanks, God, for being there anyway]
Jed and I led the music, Katlyn crafted our liturgy, and Steven preached a homily on “Public Piety” from Matthew 6. As we were rehearsing, Steven taught me the lines for the imposition of ashes:
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust – you are dead to sin, but alive in Christ.
I murmured it under my breath a few times while he gave me ash instructions (ash is tricky to work with), but didn’t think much of it.
Wow, I *really* wasn’t ready.
My first couple crosses were a bit crumbly (like I said, ash is tricky to work with), but eventually I found the right combination of pressing and crushing the ash – rubbing it between my thumb and pointer finger before applying to the forehead. By the seventh or eighth cross, I felt confident enough to look into the eyes of my congregants, and what I found there was beyond what I could have imagined.
One woman from our congregation watched as I dipped my thumb into the ash, and almost winced as I gently moved her hair to expose her forehead. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” I whispered, “you are dead to sin, but alive in Christ.”
She said three words that knocked the wind out of me, her eyes a breathtaking blend of fear and gratitude: Thank you, Pastor.
I couldn’t help it – I began to cry (but it was a quiet cry between God and I).
I told this lovely woman, who is much older and wiser than me, that she is sinful and going to die. I marked her with immortality, and I told her that she would live because of Christ. And she trusted me with that.
She believed that God spoke through me.
It is truly an honor to serve God’s people, and an even greater honor to be God’s messenger. I imagine I’ll be a humbled, weepy mess this week.