Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Reflecting on Ash and Gatherings on Ash Wednesday

I have discovered two separate photo projects for Lent, one organised by the United Methodists and one organised by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and being me I cannot resist attempting both!  It will be interesting to see where the journeys are different, and where they run concurrently.

The first project gave me the word 'gather' and I took a photo of part of my daughter's newly completed Christmas Where's Wally jigsaw,'    
with a multitude of Father Christmases and a very well disguised Wally, which of course my daughter spotted as she carefully added the pieces of jigsaw.  She added the final piece yesterday evening, but I waited until today to take a picture of the completed puzzle in daylight.  She made sure I didn't forget!

The second project gave me the word Ash so I included this photograph of my husband at church this evening after the service of Imposition of Ashes.  If you look closely you can see the bump where he head butted the corner of the cooker hood earlier :(

I was tempted to post this picture under 'gather'.  This is the view out of the vestry window at the Crematorium - a place where many people gather, to say farewell to those they love.  At the moment I took this picture no-one had yet arrived to gather on this cold but gloriously bright February day, but this is where they stand, and wait for the funeral party to arrive. I was there to assist with a service, which was a great honour.

In the evening we went to the parish Ash Wednesday service, which included the Imposition of Ashes, a sombre time to reflect on the purpose of Lent, and our reluctance to make costly sacrifices, when we have the option of buying our repentance, thorough donations to worthy causes.  Does our reluctance to fast diminish our charitable offerings?
Life has become more complicated :/

At the end of the service it was announced that tea and coffee would be available in the room next door, but as it was Lent, there would be no chocolate cake...
My daughter, who does not eat cake, mopped her brow, theatrically
"Phew!" she declared, before noticing the black smudge on her hand
"Oh no! What will God say when he finds out that I have wiped off my cross?"
"He already knows!" I replied.
She continued to look horrified so I pointed out that God would have expected her to wash the cross of before she went to bed.
"Because otherwise you would get oil and ash all over your bedclothes, which are clean!"
Maybe she thought the cross would remain on her forehead throughout Lent...
Actually that would not be such a bad idea - an outward visible sign of repentance and a desire to draw closer to God.  Oh well, I will endeavour to live my life as a demonstration of this.
The question is, 'Will anyone notice'?