Thursday, March 1, 2012
Ashes to Go: Another Reason to Be Rather Fond of the Episcopal Church
Welcome, my friends, to Lent.
This season joins us all to the shared human condition of sinfulness and repentance - things found not just in the Church, but outside.
Sure, Episcopalians aren't the only ones who mark this season (and our foreheads) - but this year hundreds, maybe even thousands, of clergy (and others) took to the streets in a missional attempt to bring Ash Wednesday ashes to foreheads of those who didn't go to church. Volunteers went to bus stations, parking garages, and public squares (above) to remind folk that we are dust and to dust we shall return.
They did it to welcome people into this holy season - which is our annual tithe to the Lord - 10% of the year, 40 days, given to God’s deep attentions to our lives.
Christianity offers a radical way of understanding human flourishing that’s not rooted in the things that can be seen but in the things that can not be seen - like love, care, concern, affection, hope, and faith.
We challenge ourselves to do some radical things to combat the world’s assault on our souls.
The world says: Buy something for you.
Lent says: Give that money to the poor.
The world says: Practice self-indulgence.
Lent says: Practice self-discipline.
The world says: Feed your body.
Lent says: Feed your soul.
So as we offer ashes to all, confess our sins, skip meals, give alms, and read more Scripture. We’re not doing it because we want to get ahead in this world, but because we want to better imagine another world. We believe that when we get a deeper vision of that other world - the one with the Real Rewards - we are made stronger to resist the false rewards of this world.
It is a message that sends us out into the world, ashes and all, to reconcile all things to Christ.
Chris Yaw is the rector of St. David's Episcopal Church in Southfield, Michigan