Today Is Ash Wednesday
Today is Ash Wednesday, an important day in the life of the church and an important day in my own life as well.
In 2003, I sat in an Ash Wednesday service in the upper room of our student center at my college. It was a nice, contemplative service, but I was wrestling with questions of the future, my own worth, what God was calling me towards. I was surrounded with people from the campus ministries group I was very active in, people who were an excellent support network to ask those questions around. I left that service wiping tears from my eyes, with not much of an understanding as to why. A week later, I met a group of people on a traveling music ministry and ended up joining with that ministry the following year.
In 2006, I had just started seminary, I had just started teaching, just started in ministry at my home church. We held the Ash Wednesday service in the small chapel, a room that we also held VBS song time in, a room that I was familiar with my whole life. Our senior minister was on sabbatical and I had been asked to lead the service. In that room were people that had known me for decades, my parents, people I worked together with so often. The act of leading prayers of repentance, the act of putting ashes on their foreheads, I tend to think these were some of the moments that affirmed my gifts and call, starting the steps of leaving professional towards ministry.
In 2013, I was pastor at a church with an active youth praise band. We were doing a couple of songs that weren't quite in the style the band normally did, but I still invited these kids to sing along with me at the service. Only two kids were available and they were kids who were members at other churches. The act of singing together, the intimacy of the service, the openness and freedom of worship, these two kids remarked how much they really enjoyed the service, how privileged they felt in getting to help lead this service.
Tonight, we have our 2016 Ash Wednesday service, Kassie and I's second with Fairview. As we plan it, we remember those previous services that have been meaningful for us individually, and bring that intentionality and love to tonight's service. We come knowing people present, open to the communal act of repentance, and treat it with respect and holy honor. Knowing how life changing this act of repentance is, we open our hearts to where God is calling us today, where God is calling our congregation.
Wherever you are, and whenever you are reading this, take some time to confess to the Lord, to repent, and open your heart to being led by God's Grace. We have devotional books at the church for individuals and families. The are also online reflections through RethinkChurch.org and SlateProject.org. I pray that we can reflect as individuals, but that we can come together to see how God is calling us as a congregation, as the Body of Christ, to act together.
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Co-Pastors Travis and Kassie Smith McKee