Yesterday I went to Ash Wednesday services at Grace Lutheran here in Springfield. The following are reflections I’ve had either on the service itself, on Ash Wednesday in general, or in response to events that occurred b/c I went to services.
I really like how there is no opening music or closing music during Ash Wednesday service. They allow for times of silence for prayer or contemplation. It would have been better if the two female ushers (who were around my age) weren’t talking through all of the beginning time, but…
It was the same main pastor and associate pastor as last year. EW and I were talking how it seems oxymoronic and odd to have such a traditional service with such progressive thinking all at once. This was in reference to how liturgical the whole service was and yet the associate pastor is a woman.
I liked the songs we chose to do and the placement of the songs. We only had organ music as accompaniment to corporate worship. I don’t have the bulletin, so I can’t tell you all the songs, but I can say I liked them. There was one about the breath of God in us that I particularly liked.
When I was younger and went to services that were more liturgical than services I now attend, I didn’t understand what was going on. It was all rote motions/actions. I enjoyed actually contemplating yesterday. I enjoyed actually listening to what I was saying and CHOOSING to agree with what I was saying.
catholic is an adjective meaning wide-ranging or liberal; all encompasing; the whole body of the church on earth. That was interesting to me since I was trying to actually mean what I was saying and not just blindly reading. When we did the Nicean Creed I had to think… this isn’t a Catholic church… what does catholic mean, then? Do I believe in one catholic and apostolic church? (yes I do)
I liked how we had responsive prayer that allowed time for personal confession but also incorporated corporate confession, such as how we treat our fellow humans, how we treat the enviornment, how we’re selfish and ignore God, etc. I liked that even though I’m not a part of that particular congregation, that worship, prayer, etc. can still be corporate because we all do belong to one church. I liked the corporate aspect of confession. That’s an aspect of being a christian that I don’t know much about and I don’t get to particpate in as much on a corporate level.
I like how this is a season to contemplate on one part of the Christian story (albeit a very important part), but that it’s still just a PART of the story. It encourages me to look at the story in totality. I’ve been very interested in Genesis recently, which unusual for me… but I think Christ’s suffering and sacrifice loose some of their significance if the story is not taken in its entirity.
I love that we’re still part of the story. I love that simply going to services and receiving the ashes allowed for conversations I might not have normally had. I had a great conversation with a co-worker about why I’m a Christian, when I became a Christian and why I believe certain things I do. I also got to have some good one-on-one converstations with my Jr. High girls about the differences in religious denominations and practices and why I was wearing ashes.
I liked being able to go up and kneel at the alter at Grace to recieve the ashes and communion (and to pray if I had so desired). I think that adds an element of being responsive that always staying in your pew doesn’t require.
Repentance: I know what that means… I know what I’m suppossed to say it means… and I know how to make it appear as if I’m a repentant person. There are definately actions/activities that I have repented of (turned away from) since becoming a Christian, but there are also those that I refuse to acknowledge (even in the midst of doing them), the sins you commit in secret, in the dark, in your head, in your heart… In talking to a friend earlier this week I was explaining that it’s hard to change the things that go on in your head. It’s hard to replace the lies with truth. Because in actuality, we LIKE some of the lies… they make us feel good, they make us happy for a time. When people talk about wanted to break free from the lies or break free from sin, they generally mean the lies and the sin that make them feel bad. The lies and the sins that make us sad or unhappy or angry, etc. We don’t want to acknowledge the things that we do that make us happy or make us feel great or make us smile as lies or sin. And when we don’t do that we can’t truly break free and begin to live the total freedom that Christ offers us. And I think my head has known that for a while. But for the first time I think my heart is starting to realize that as well. We’re called to lay down our lives to follow Jesus… to turn from the ways of this world to the ways we were CREATED to be. And that means sacrifice along with the freedom. Not all of the things of this world are things we WANT to give up… if they were there’d be a lot less athesists, agnostics, etc. out there, don’t you think? It does mean sometimes giving up something(s) you think is GREAT for something even BETTER. And I have to believe that there is that something better. It’s not something I feel right now, but it is something that I have to KNOW. I’ve chosen to give up some things for Lent this year (hopefully Lent is just the start of completely giving up)… and it’s not making me FEEL the happiest right now, I’m not jumping up and down about it. But I have to believe that what God calls sin IS indeed sin, and giving it up, no matter how good it makes me FEEL, will work out for the best in the end.
I wish, as an individual, as one part of a variety of relationships, and as a community, we took more time to pray together, to seek God together and to be God’s light in the community together. I feel my God fits in a box right now. Jenny (my coworker) was very surpised when I told her I didn’t become a Christian until I was 20 because, as she says, “But you’re, like, super religious now. Lots that you do has to do with the church, right?” It might be a big box, but it’s still a box. I wish I lived in His box instead…