Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Genesis 3:19
Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day in the season of Lent.  As she did last year, Pastor Emily will be offering prayers and ashes at our local Starbucks.  Unconventional?  Perhaps.  But, according to this article, which I hope you will take a moment to read, more and more Methodist Churches are taking Lent's message of repentance and forgiveness to the streets.

When Emily announces her intentions for Ash Wednesday last year, my husband, Danny, and I are elated.  She will be at the Starbucks just up the street from 7:00 until 9:00 in the morning.  As Danny works at home on Wednesday, we plan to go together and get Lent started off on the right foot.

As we are driving there, I wonder about what Emily will say, will pray, will do when imposing the ashes.  My previous experiences have all been in formal church services.  I really don't know what to expect.

But, I'm more than pleasantly surprised.

Emily hands each of us a small card with the purpose of Lent printed on one side and a Prayer for Forgiveness on the other.  As we follow along, she reads the purpose of Lent aloud:

We put ashes on our heads to:

  • Remind us of all those around the world who are mourning and suffering.
  • Remind us that we all have sinned, we all need repentance, and we all must cling to the promises and love of Christ.
  • Remind us that in the passage of time, we will all someday die.
  • Remind us of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection.
  • Remind us that in the midst of this, we are still called, named, claimed, and loved Children of God.
Wow!  So humbling, yet so uplifting at the same time!  Emily places the cross of ashes on our foreheads, and together we recite the Prayer for Forgiveness.  This is the prayer I will leave with you today.  May your Lenten season be filled with God's love, mercy and blessings!

Merciful God,
I confess that I have not
loved you with my whole heart.
I have failed to be obedient.
I have not done your will.
I have broken your law.
I have rebelled against your love.
I have not loved my neighbors, and
I have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive me, I pray.  Free me for joyful
obedience, through Jesus Christ,
my Lord.  Amen.

REMINDER!  Beginning tomorrow, visit Kennesaw United Methodist's website here for your daily Lenten devotions.


  1. I have never heard of something like this. Quite a unique way of professing God's love and at a very appropriate time as well. May Pastor and your family be blessed and that your deed reaches out to many out there who are forever searching in a cynical world.

    Joy always,

    1. Thanks so much, Susan, for stopping by! Yes, this is a unique way to reach others for Christ. What's so great, too, I think, is how our local Starbucks actually welcomes this. Who knows the lives which might be changed forever because a pastor cared enough to go outside the four safe walls of the church?
      Blessings and joy to you!

  2. Godspeed to you! Blessings to you for acting in a Wesleyan way!

    1. Thanks so much for visiting and so glad you enjoyed the post.
      Blessings to you!

  3. I think it is fantastic that your pastor is making this observance of the first day of Lent more public, so that people are more aware of it and no doubt, even if they just walk past and don't participate or say anything, are reminded of it and a little seed is planted in their minds/hearts to think about God.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jessica!
      Yes, I think it's a great thing Pastor Emily is offering. Let's hope those seeds of God are planted! :)
      Blessings and love!

  4. Thank you for sharing with us, Martha. Each of us walk their own path, giving and sharing, love. I am touched with Emily's approach. It's real and not overwhelming. I bet she made an dent in many lives.

    1. Thanks so much for coming by, Brenda!
      Yes, Emily is always sincere and real in all that she does; and, it's all done in Christ's love. I'm hoping many will be touched by the message of salvation this Ash Wednesday.
      Blessings and love!

  5. Very Creative! I have never celebrated Lent, but I am intrigued by it. I may celebrate next year (if I can remember...) I especially appreciate the reminder of how important rituals are to our celebration of faith. I will meditate on that this afternoon. Thank you, Martha XOXOXOX

    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Linda!
      I do hope you will decide to celebrate it next year; stay tuned to my posts for a reminder. :)
      What Pastor Emily is doing, taking it public, is on the cutting edge. You should have seen the curious and interested looks of the patrons at Starbucks! Hope it made a difference.
      Blessings and love!

  6. I love the prayer you shared...and the reminders. Truly humbling.

    I'll probably make a psalm out of this for this kids. Thanks for sharing and giving me more ideas on how to translate these practices into something the kids will comprehend and enjoy.

    I pray with you.


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