Park Road always follows whatever CMS does concerning weather for our Wednesday night schedule. If there is no school on a Wednesday, then we cancel church activities.
This particular Wednesday, however, was Ash Wednesday. How do you cancel Ash Wednesday?
You can’t postpone it until next week. Next Wednesday we’ll be 7 days into our Lenten journey. It would be too late to impose ashes then. So, we broke tradition (gasp!) and said, “We will still have our Ash Wednesday service.”
Then all during the day I second-guessed our decision. The weather was frigid cold and the temps were dropping. People get weird about weather. There was no way anyone would be there except the staff, a few choir members, and the folks singing special music for the service. I was feeling blue which I guess isn’t a bad emotion for Ash Wednesday, but I was already feeling disappointed before the service even started.
Why can’t I ever remember, however, that it doesn’t matter how many people show up? Sure, it requires just as much work and effort to prepare a service for 5 people as for 50 people. But it’s not about our work or our effort. It is really about creating space for people to draw closer to God.
Ahhh, that’s right. It’s about God.
It’s not about how many people are present, or whether one likes the preaching (or the preacher), or whether the music is the style you prefer. It’s about God and our life in community to draw closer to one another and to God.
So imagine my surprise when Russ and I walked into the Chapel just a few minutes before the service was to start and saw that a crowd had gathered. I think this says something about people’s need for gathering together on significant days to remember – to remember their own mortality, their own brokenness – in the journey toward Hope and Resurrection living.
We sang. We prayed. We confessed. We sat in silence and listened. And we received our ashes. And for that, I am grateful – grateful that we didn’t follow the school system for one Wednesday night. Grateful that, when we gather in community, I understand a bit more fully what it means to be human and what it means to be forgiven and what it means to be Loved.
And that, my friends, is why I do Church.