Lent is a time of paying holy attention to the journey Jesus makes through his life to the cross. We get so wrapped up in our own lives, and in our own thirst that don’t pay attention. Our theme this year, “Beautiful Lessons” is based on a line from Mary Oliver’s poem “Thirst” which says, “all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons.” This season we will lean into what lessons we can learn from the stories of Jesus, using a phrase from the poem matched with the text for the week to guide us.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6. We will gather at Squirrel Haus Arts at 7 PM.
You may have questions: What is Ash Wednesday, and why the ashes and the reminder of death? Ash Wednesday marks the start of the time of Lent. In the earliest centuries, Christians who felt stuck in persistent sin had ashes sprinkled on their bodies as a sign of repentance, like Job repented “in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Sometime in the the tenth century, all believers began to signify their need for repentance by having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. Even this sign of ash hinted at the good news yet to come through its shape. Ash Wednesday is not intended to be a depressing holy day as much as it is a reminder that we actually need God. Sometimes we forget that. But the shape of the cross on the forehead symbolically anticipates Good Friday and Easter, so the reminder comes with a promise.
I tend to think it is good to have a ritual to give voice to the human condition. If you’re like me, sometimes we live in that place, aware of all that is not perfect. Sometimes when I shut the lights out at night, voices come creeping into my head of all that was said and unsaid, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. All that makes us human. Having a ritual around that is not so that God can beat you down in guilt and shame, but so that God’s grace and forgiveness can be heard. God doesn’t need us to repent. But we need to repent so that we can hear God’s grace spoken into our lives.
Ash Wednesday is one of the spaces where we do that, and see what Beautiful Lessons God has left us all along the way.
What will the service be like?
This gathering will have music, ritual, poetry and communion. It is the day when we stop and take a moment to contemplate what we need to “turn back” from; A day to realize what gets in the way of our connection to God. You will have the opportunity to privately consider and write down what you might want to confess, and then we will hear God’s forgiveness and get rid of those things. (Your confession time will be between you and God). You will have the opportunity to receive ashes on your forehead, with the reminder that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. You will be fed at communion with the grace of God.
See you at Squirrel Haus at 7 PM on Wednesday.