Last night’s Ash Wednesday’s service was what Ash Wednesday services often are – difficult. It's painful to remind ourselves with a physical gesture that (to borrow a charge) life is short, and we have very little time. But time for what?
The charge used at the congregation I serve and at the seminary I attended ends “time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us, so let us be swift to love, and make haste to be kind”. I definitely dig that as a use of the short window of time I’ve got on this earth.
My role in the service was primarily as liturgist, something more often filled by volunteers from the congregation. I was really happy to get to fill it since the liturgist gets to do my favorite part of the service – the part that weaves its way subtly into everything we do in worship – an explicit declaration of forgiveness. With our liturgy, we are called to worship, sing a hymn, confess as a community, and then one lucky person gets to stand in the pulpit and share the Good News. And it’s pretty freaking awesome news. Forgiveness! Love! Eternal! For YOU! Holy cow.
I try to share it with the joy I feel, though I’m sure it sometimes come across like a kid telling about their favorite birthday present. But so what? It’s jubilation-worthy news, no doubt.
As always, the question becomes one of practical application. So we have this good news in our pockets, so what? Well, as the charge suggests, we go out and live like we believe it. Whoever you are, you’ve got some good news. Whether Christian or not, you’re here, aren’t you? You’ve got the ability to read and Internet access, which counts you amongst the lucky. You’ve got a brain to fill with knowledge and understanding. You’ve got people who love you. You’ve got the opportunity to share compassion and community with others, to love people, and to be loved. You could call it the opportunity of a lifetime.