I read someone else’s Ash Wednesday post from last week today, finally winding my way down to that part of my feed. These lines struck me:
If we had had an Ash Wednesday service at my church, I would have still had to tell them that, only I would have gotten to do it with an obvious sign smeared onto my forehead.
I think the ashes from the Ash Wednesday service are supposed to be from the burned Palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday– branches left over from a triumphal entry, riddled with mangled expectations and selfish hopes of Jewish people looking for something else– branches charred and obliterated, the remnants of the herald for a King, now that we know how the story plays out, who came to die.
What is it that we’re officially celebrating on Palm Sunday again? Why do we celebrate that as a church? I can’t remember.
Or maybe it’s just that I can’t remember right now.
When I look in the mirror, I don’t see triumph–I don’t see the finish of the story. With a bare face and the barrenness of my ministry calendar,
I donned a bare face to try to answer the question “Am I enough?” I’ve gone into the desert to answer that question, but also a bigger one:
Those ashes are liturgically a mark of mourning–the Church family’s collective mourning of its sin that needed the Cross.
But for me, they are a mark of love.