It’s hard for me to believe that today is the last day of being 40. Turning 41 seems like a bigger deal than turning 40. I guess because I feel as if I have been through a year of physical challenges and the emotional ones that go along with it and at some level hope this isn’t what all years will look like. But I’m taking this day to begin a New Years resolution of sorts – making changes in the way that I handle life around me. Some of those changes may be a bit scary and some of them come with a sense of relief. If I want to live another 40 years I know that it’s time to put into practice some of the very things that I tell those I pastor on a regular basis. It’s time to do some things that refresh me and allow my energy and God’s love and grace to flow throw me.
During the past year my life seemingly fell apart, childhood trauma hit me again and this time as a flying brick coming out of no where. I wasn’t expecting it to rehaunt my life but it did and it forced me into a major depressive episode which led to new meds and a new therapist. It also was the leading cause in a medical leave of absence from the church I serve. One of the toughest things I had to do was to stop being a pastor to others and allow some to care for me. It wasn’t long after my return to work that I had a hysterectomy and appendectomy – another tough and emotional event. As my 40th year was drawing to a close I returned to Canada to officiate at my grandfather’s funeral. This proved to be a time filled with great blessing and a time of sadness as I learnt new things about my family of origin and yet was blessed with a reunion of sorts with my Aunt, Uncle,and cousins and got to meet an Aunt I’d never met. I hope that these new and reformed relationships will grow as time goes by. I celebrated my 16th year of ordination and thus faithful service to the Moravian Church – service to a God I love and a church I deeply appreciate and care for.
So today I spent time not only looking back over the past year but more looking into the year that lies ahead. This morning I spent some time with my counselor and I can’t begin to emphasize how much of a life saver she was as I travelled through this past year (and I can’t help but say if you are considering getting a counselor – do it, it just might save your life too but at the very least it will enrich it). This afternoon I’ll spend some time learning about continued ways to serve the church and this evening will be topped off with some time of doing what I love to do most knitting!
As I enter a new year of life I pray that I may more fully become the person that God created and continues to create and call me to be. I know that takes a commitment on my part to tend to myself – my whole self- body, spirit and mind. I make this commitment and look forward to watching the ways that will help me to grow. I look forward to creating more (hopefully finishing my first knitted sweater), coloring more, taking time to take more pictures and letting the spirit recreate and create a new in me. I certainly look forward to enhancing my ability to minister and going on my first cruise in February with other revgals. Lastly, I look forward to a more uplifting year filled with the peace and hope that comes when claimed as a child of God!
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.