Next Wednesday is known as “Ash Wednesday.” It’s called that because it marks the beginning of 40 days before Easter excluding Sundays. A lot of people call this period “Lent.” This year at EPUMC we are calling it “Easter Preparations.” We are renaming Lent for a year in order to emphasize our focus of defining as clearly as we can spiritual practices that allow God’s Light; (that helps us See in a New Way) to go deeper into our lives.
Easter this year is on April 1, no fooling, and so if you count backwards next Wednesday starts our Easter Preparations. Our Easter Preparations in worship will include an exploration of things like prayer and reading scripture. Our theme for worship will be “Let the Light Go Deeper.”
On Ash Wednesday, February 14 (I know, everybody else is going to call it Valentine’s Day) we begin our SOUP SUPPERS. If you are new to EPUMC, it is one of the best things that happens here. People sign up to bring a variety of soups every Wednesday from now until just before Easter. We then gather at 5:45 p.m. to eat this simple meal together. Following our meal, we gather in the sanctuary for a simple worship service that lasts less than half an hour.
On Ash Wednesday, the service is a little more involved. It’s solemn service in which we recognize our mortality, our limitations, our need for God. As a part of that, we place Ashes on our foreheads in the shape of the cross. Traditionally Christians make these ashes by burning last year’s Palm Sunday branches. In the Bible the crowd welcomes Jesus into Jerusalem by waving palm branches and shouted something like “hooray for Jesus!” Then just a few days later they were shouting for Jesus to be strung up on a cross. So the palm branches are also sort of a reminder of the fickleness of faith.
I didn’t want to light a fire in the church, so I just went to the church supply store and purchased our ashes. I hope all this sounds like a great Valentine’s Day date?
Anyway that is why it is called Ash Wednesday; it’s on a Wednesday because it’s always gonna be a Wednesday that is 40 days before Easter Sunday. It’s on a different day every year because Easter is on a different day every year. (I’ll explain that one at Easter or you can go to Google right now.) And Ash Wednesday is Ash Wednesday because of the Ashes.
Something else that is going on at EPUMC this week is a twist in how I’ve defined our challenges of vitality. As many of us know, Deb Soderholm, the best Children’s Ministry Coordinator on the planet, fell and broke her collarbone. She is doing well, but she is not at work and won’t be for a few weeks. I’ve always said if somebody is going to go down on this church staff, please let it be me…don’t let it be Deb.
So the challenge is, who is coordinating Children’s Ministries? At our Children’s Ministry team meeting this week, we looked at each other and said, “We have the capacity that we did not have a few years ago to do this ourselves for a while.”
Although no ten of us can replace Deb, there are many who are stepping up and doing more right now to keep our Sunday School running smoothly for the kids. Thanks especially to Jody Veatch and the Children’s Ministry team.
Keep the Faith,