Ash Wednesday Reflection

Last night's Ash Wednesday Service was very memorable.  

This was the first year of involving the Confirmation Class with the service.   The young people assisted with the service by being greeters, reading scripture and most importantly by serving communion and offering the mark of the cross with ashes to people.

All the years I have officated at Ash Wednesday, I have had Deacons assisting with serving communion, but not with the imposition of ashes.   As we moved through the different prayers and songs leading up to the imposition of ashes, I felt the service going well.    I offered the invitation for people to come forward, and the young people then moved into to place to receive the people coming forward.   As I watched them, I was moved by how serious they participated.  Making eye contact, gently making the mark of the cross and offering their own words.

I took my place in the back of the line and as I came forward to Tim, I realized this was the first time in a long time, that I was receiving the ashes, and not giving them.  It was a grace filled moment and one that was deep and rich.    As the young people then made the mark of the cross on each other, I was moved to note that they were ministering to each other.

Later, we moved into the time of breaking bread and sharing the cup.   We used a responsive reading as an invitation and prayer of blessing.  I then invited people forward and offered the bread and cups (communion was by intinction) to the young people.   Again, I stepped back and observed.    Then, I took my place in line and received the bread and dipped it into the chalice.   Serving communion is one act of ministry - receiving it (as opposed to serving yourself) is completely different. 

It was rich and powerful to be on the receiving end of ministry this night.  

Lent has begun - not just in quiet and solemn ways - but with great joy and grace.

Thanks be to God.