During last year’s noon Ash Wednesday service a four-old came to worship with her grandmother. When it came to the portion of the service where people began to come forward for the imposition of ashes and to hear the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” I began to hear another voice intertwined with mine. It took my brain a second to compute but when it did I realized that as my voice continued to repeat, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” the little girls voice threaded through mine as she sang from the back “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Together we created an impromptu choral round: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return;” “Yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me.” It was a wonderfully sacred and holy moment that embodied the tension of the Lenten season.
Why do we mark ashes at the beginning of the Lenten season? To show in a tangible way we belong to God. God created us from the dust of the earth and to dust we shall return – from beginning to end we are a part of God’s creation. Ashes are messy and yet as they mark us with the cross they remind us that God loves us in the midst of our mess. They remind us that through the love of Jesus redemption and re-creation is possible.
That four-year old got it. She made the worship service come alive in a way no amount of work on the preacher’s part could have made happen but the Holy Spirit worked through her and her singing, and the community was blessed.
An Invitation: I hope this year you will consider bringing your children to one of our Ash Wednesday services. The liturgy is shorter (they are 30-40 minute services) and more experiential than our standard Sunday morning services. Children embrace the mystery and the messiness of the day in an authentic way. They see those around them being marked and as they come forward they not only hear but see they belong to the community and to God as well.
12:00pm: Ash Wednesday Worship Service in the Chapel
6:30pm: Ash Wednesday Worship Service in the Sanctuary