After talking with the deacons and staff, I decided to try something new this year: A Drop-In Imposition of Ashes and Blessing. Since our congregants are of various religious backgrounds, two wise church members told me to talk about the 'what' and 'why' of Ash Wednesday so I spent some time Sunday explaining its importance.
I decided "in for a penny, in for a pound" so the hours were 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. this morning and later today I'll be at the Methodist Church with Pastor Bruce from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
At 6:30 a.m. the first congregant arrived--a farmer on his way to work. Then came children, seniors, toddlers and mamas, middle-aged adults, long-time church members, and just-joined-on-Sunday folks.
I can't believe how many parents brought their children. What a gift! I hadn't imagined how life-giving it would be to talk about forgiveness with 8-year olds or how sweet it would be to repeat aloud words of the season with toddlers: Cross (CROSS!), Lent (LENT!), Easter (EASTER!).
I hadn't imagined how meaningful it would be to pray with each person, or to read together the good news of God's compassion and forgiveness of our sins (Psalm 103). What a gift.
Truly the pastorate is such a privilege.