Ash Wednesday Community Service Idea
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of this amazing season called Lent. To be honest, I didn't really understand it for the longest time. I remember walking across my seminary campus wondering why so many folks had forgotten to wash their foreheads that morning. Then I started doing some research and study. Those who know me, understand that, for me, context is a big deal. It's the context that often gives meaning to our long held traditions and rituals. By themselves, these rituals can be beautiful but really not very meaningful. Context allows us to connect this bold beautiful faith with centuries of saints who have gone before - all who tried to seek God's grace and presence through engaging the Story.
After, I started engaging the story a little, I found new depth and beauty to this first day of the journey of Lent. Instead of not knowing what to do with it, I now long for this day. It's a new beginning in to a season of intentionality (another important word for me). It's the start to opening myself up, in a totally unique way, to the prodding and search of the Holy Spirit. Sure it's a time to let go of things, but it's also a time of leaning in - of focusing in a kind of supernatural way. Ash Wednesday and Lent are like a giant snow day that forces me to be still and let the quiet move me.
Over the last year, I have built some great relationships with the other Methodist churches and non-Methodist churches in my area. In a spirit of ecumenism, two pastor friends and I decided that we should worship together as we begin this Lenten journey. Attached to this post is a service that our churches, (Lancaster United Methodist, First Presbyterian of Lancaster, Lancaster Christian Church) will be sharing this coming Ash Wednesday. We have purposefully left out the music selections so that our music teams will be able to have some additional creative space. Each of us will be presiding over this service and we anticipate a good turnout from our churches as we begin the journey together.
If you would like to use the service, please feel free to do so! Use it as is, or tweak for you context. You may have some other churches you could partner with,or it may just be you this Ash Wednesday. Whatever the case, I pray that you have a blessed journey this Lenten Season. May you sense God's grace giving you a renewal as we journey to the Cross and the celebration of the Empty Tomb.
- Jim Nichols
(The resources we post here are for you to use. Feel free to use them as is or tweak to fit your setting.)