It always seems Ash Wednesday sneeaks up on me no matter how prepared I think I might be. But this year it seemed to come out of no where and not only was I not prepared for it but I wasnt feeling it either. I just had some surgery a week ago today and have been pushing myself a bit more than I should lately. I just want to get back to normal and go about being a pastor and not having others worry about me — usually it’s me doing the worrying about others.
I’m blessed as many of you know to work with my husband in team ministry and I seriously contemplated asking him if he would mind if I stayed home tonight because I just didn’t think I could mange a service, even if I was just sitting with my littleman. But something inside me, that still small voice that speaks and makes itself known spoke load and clear that I really needed to go. So off I went next door to the church. It was good to be seen and folks seemed happy to see me but I started to second quess listening to that voice as I sat in the pew with a growing uncomfortableness in my belly and where my incisions where. Why had I pushed myself again I wondered — and wondered how long was it going to take me to recover again. Up and down I went as we would stand and sit through out the liturgy and the singing of hymns.
Something shifted inside me as we came to the point in the service that my husband placed the cross on each forehead….ashes from the burnt palm branches from our last Palm Sunday Service. The choir was singing “Create in me a Clean Heart” as the congregation was supposed to come forward as one felt lead. The most eager and therefore the first one up was an almost 5 year old of the church. He wanted to go all by himself and that he did. He brought tears to many of our eyes — an eager little guy wanting to have the cross placed on his forward a sign he knew that Jesus loved him and had died for him. I’m not sure I know all that went through his little mind as I didn’t get to talk to him but it was through him that I knew why the still small voiced urged me to church. If we could all enter into the lenten season with such eagerness and passion. If we could all cling to Christ’s love with no what if’s or no preconvinced ideas of what Christ should do for us instead of what we should do for Christ. I looked around the sanctuary as this proud little boy returned to his seat where his parents still where and noticed there were a lot of tears in peoples eyes. Children indeed have a lot to teach us adults and I’m grateful for his witness to those gathered at Fries Mememorial Moravian Tonight. I’m blessed to be his pastor and to have watched him grow over these 2.5 years and I look forward to watching his continued growth.
At the end of service our younger child were finding their way up from the nursery and several of them wanted crosses on their heads also, which we gladly did. It was wonderful that they were not afraid of the ashes but in many ways awestruck by them. On sweet little girl who will soon be 2 got a cross on her forward and she was so proud of it that she showed it off saying “cross”. She doensn’t have the deeper knowledge that some of the adults have but she had one thing for certain she had a cross on her forward and in time she will continue to grow into the knowledge and the love of that cross.
So despite my intitial feelings Ash Wednesday turned out to be a moving and memorable days. I’m sure that this Ash Wednesday is one that I will remember for years into the rest of my ministiry. It also serves to remind us that Children have a faith bigger and deeper than any of us can even begin to imagine. And when we do hear that ever small voice so strongly urging us to go and do something, maybe we ought to listen because it’s often in those moments that our lives are forever forever changed. Thanks be to God for using the youngest among us to remind us of a love that runs so deep that Jesus would give his life so that we might live. Thanks be to God! What a joy and blessing to serve such a rich church.
And of course how could I not include a cute selfie of my two boys:
Pictures taken by Kelly L. Moore of Joseph L. Moore and may not be used without written permission.