A Reflection on the Start of Lent

It's been awhile since I wrote something on FJ's blog, largely because I often lament over the act of writing.  I enjoy it, but often struggle with the time and focus to get something typed.  Today I am using Nike's theme and saying "Just Do It."

Today is the second day of Lent, and WOW has it been an amazing journey at Holy Spirit Verona already!  On Sunday, the Last Sunday after The Epiphany, our Music Director invited her son to play trumpet during our 10am Eucharist and we sang Alleluia (I assume I can still type that word in Lent; if not, here come the liturgical police again) we could.  Attendees rang bells each time the word was said, sung or prayed.  Yes, perhaps some Excedrin was required later in the day, but it was an extremely joy-filled worship service.  Later that night we had our first of two parts of Episcopal 101; great fun and lots of learning.

Tuesday, Fat Tuesday that is, we hosted our annual Pancake Supper with many Holy Spirit and community members in attendance.  The pancakes were amazing, prepared with love by Chef Mike Carlucci.  Chief pot/dishwasher was Michael Gibson and helping to keep things moving in the Kitchen was Sous Chef Catherine Tamasik.  It was a wonderful evening of music, food, fun and fellowship.  The next morning, starting at 7:30am we once again (for the fifth year) hosted Ashes To Go in the front of the Church.  Over 100 people passed by during the 90-minute morning shift.  Each person was treated to a personalized distribution of ashes, and received card with a small portion of the scripture reading for the day.  Attendees were encouraged to reflect on what needed to be rebuilt this Lent.  "What will be different?" has been my Lenten theme this year. 

On Ash Wednesday, we also offered two Eucharists in our historic Chapel which were well attended, plus a Children's Service where the kids buried the Alleluia banner (not to be dug up until Easter morning).  Throughout the day over twenty more people arrived for Ashes To Go, and then more than 100 additional people during the 90-minute afternoon shift.  I am tremendously thankful for parishioner Michael Gibson who joined me for the three hours of Ashes To Go and greeted each person with his infectious smile.  Ashes To Go, to me, is a unique opportunity to connect with the holy.  Clearly people want to "mark" a holy Lent; we served over 235 souls with Ashes To Go this year.  Each interaction, although often less than a minute, brought people closer to God, to themselves (we are recognizing our mortality in many ways by participating in distribution of ashes, aren't we?), and to the greater Christian community.  I am thankful to those who participated, and clearly people are grateful for the opportunity.  We heard lots of thank yous, and an amazing amount of stories of why attending a service just could not happen for them.  Sure, it would be great if everyone could attend an Ash Wednesday service, but if that is not an option... Ashes To Go is an option too... well, at least at Holy Spirit Verona.  Wishing all a blessed Lenten journey!