Ash Wednesday

I grew up in the Episcopal church and was drowned in liturgy that I didn’t appreciate or didn’t understand. The only thing about Sundays that I remembered was: sit, stand, kneel, rinse and repeat every 3 seconds. My brother and I had to be acolytes and I remember he’d always pass out from the “exercise” of a Sunday morning.

Sam and I have been going to non-denominational churches since college. They tend to be very contemporary in worship without a lot of liturgy. We have loved the two churches we’ve been a part of (Vintage21 and Salem Chapel) and felt blessed by the community and heart that goes into those churches. However, Lent season was approaching this year and I realized that I needed to be reminded of what it was about. So I went to an Ash Wednesday service at my old Episcopal church. It was so beautiful. We read prayers that had been read for generations. We kneeled in reverence to God. We sang hymns that were rich with Scripture and theology. As I walked to the altar to have the ashes put on my forehead, I looked around at the congregation. There were heads bowed in solemn pleas for atonement. There were no iphones out tweeting about what the pastor was saying or about what a good song we were singing- they were experiencing it. There was no chance for the musicians to “perform” because the one organist was hidden so only his music to God would be heard. There was no apology or reluctance from the congregation to boldly walk to the altar and have ashes placed on our foreheads because there was beauty in outwardly showing our depravity.
All of that to say, apparently my heart was needing some liturgy and reverence in this Lent season. Even though as I walked to my car with an ash cross on my forehead, I wondered how many people would think I was in a death metal band and was tempted to start throshing and doing my best screamo impression… what was I saying about needing reverence?
I left the Episcopal church for a few reasons but the main one was selfish. I was so afraid of being “boring” or too “old fashioned”. So for Lent, I’m going to wear pilgrim clothes, ride the Old Spice horse to work, and give up making jokes. Starting now…

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