As it turns out, it was my very first time, despite my emergent church love for ye olde church traditions influence during my crucial theology developmental years.
All kinds of great is the best description I can gather at such a late hour. A place of growth, and health and community and yep. I could gush for a very long time, but I shall refrain.
(today is your day little man)
This year, I not only went to my first ash Wednesday service, but I got to help with music for it as well… this may or may not be the main reason I went BUT despite my initial motivation, the end result is that I will forevermore attend me some ash wiping services. So legit. I think the change occurred not only in the attendance of such, but maybe because I actually understood what it was about for the first time…. money towards Bible school went where? My answer that doesn’t answer the question and only really states an unhealthy habit? Selective listening…. Also, I’m under the assumption that I was dropped on my head as a child, so I can’t be entirely blamed…. Only mostly.
Ok, so I’m not ENTIRELY dumb and I got the concept of ashes to ashes and whatnot, but good God, the church calendar has been blowing my mind for the past couple years man… and it wont stop! I mildly ignored it for a while because I didn’t want to look like I was copying my weird hipster friends that seem to know everything about theology mostly because they’re really into sounding smart about liturgy or church history or something like that
such a combination can only scream TERRORRRR!!!
So I get signed up for this ash wippage, without thinking much of it other than it being a fun little adventure where I’ll think deep thoughts amidst the monastic chants intermingled with sigur ros songs and I’ll get this trophy smudge which I’ll proudly don for about 5 mins before wiping it off like the slobbery lipstick smear left on your cheek from my great aunt.
Then, while at a friends house for dinner, my heart is changed by some well explained fervor for the lent. More than being some fun little actions and going on a church themed diet, this whole lent thing during the week, with every hunger pang of whatever it is we are sacrificing, we are reminded of the hope that is to come (which is the resurrection of Christ at easter)… yeah ok, I get it, I wrote a song about it even… but every Sunday, we get to be reminded of that hope and celebrate that with the body, all anticipating the ultimate hope at the end of the 40 days… bla bla bla church talk, I’ll pretend like I already know it because I’ve legitimately heard it over and over… wait… HOLY MEANINGFEST! … its not this somber little time of pity and moping because you’re hungry, it’s a time of hope and being constantly reminded of the ultimate hope in Christ and his ressurection…. My little bible school mind is blown with this reawakening of meaning…. and then the whole death reminder, brings us back to recognizing our humanity. Death is inevitable, and our fight against such reflects a hope for a life beyond this that we were created for…. But despite our strivings, we are helpless and brought to a crossroads of choosing to trust Christ with the unknown. It is here that He calls us to loosen our grip on our lives and die to self. It is here that Christ says we live. I don’t care how many times I’ve heard this, it just strikes a chord with me this year… and I hope that it never stops striking.
Also, it turns out that Rick McKinley is my new favorite for storytime. First service, he gave a great spiel based on his thoughts summed up nicely in a chapter in his new book NOT SO SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE OF THE DAY: BUY IT… but then the evening service, he pulled out a stool, and we all got to gather round on the blue carpet, criss-cross applesauce (in my heart I still say Indian style) as he actually read the chapter to us. Say what you will about vanity, but good ol Ricky is anything but vain and he just nailed it and reading it was the best decision ever. So really, you should buy the book… I haven’t yet, but my excuse is that I have no money. I can guarantee that the majority of the people reading this have more money that me ever and forever, and therefore can afford such magic (when I say magic, I obviously mean to infer that Rick is full of PURE THEOLOGY WIZARDRY!)
No but really, buy it. I’ll even help you and give you the amazon link:
you have no excuse now.
So yeah. That’s how I got my ash wiped this year. First time around, it lasted about… 30 minutes before I felt silly and rubbed it off. BLASPHEMY! The second time, about 10 minutes… DOUBLE BLASPHEMY! Now I have a smudgy wrist and ash particles in my eyes… that’s what I get. But really, the church calendar is bomb... and all I want to do right now is have money to buy theology books… and Rick’s new book. Instead, I’ll just go and be a musician or something... Psh….And maybe live holistically and intentially for free.... bla bla bla