ashes and intimacy

As silent figures amble from the sanctuary Wednesday night, we begin observing the Lenten season. During the imposition of ashes, I always get reflective.

There is something about each face that presents itself before me to receive the smudgy cross, to hear the lovely morbid words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” and the bare call to conversion, “Repent and believe the gospel.” This is intimacy, with all its playful shyness and awkward terror –flesh pressed against flesh, the truth about our common humanity briefly acknowledged. As I meet eyes with person after person, I smile. It seems the least I can do before administering these naked and forceful words.

As I place the ashes on forehead after forehead, I ponder each one. Teenagers come, death and mortality juxtaposed defiantly against their clumsy adolescent vibrancy. Older folks come, sage eyes speaking the deep truth of the liturgy back to me even though my lips are the only ones moving. Mothers and fathers come, mindful, prayerful, spiritual, yes, but wanting their visions of graduations and weddings and careers and grandchildren to be truer than the ashy truth of this night.

Pastors know the rules of the trade. No pressing the ashes harder on some persons than on others. Use the same amount of ashes with everyone. Do not be more eager to impose some than others. Having sat in committee meetings, hospital rooms, school plays, and soccer games with these people, we may have a list of specific sins of which to be repented. But they know ours as well, the narcissisms common to the baptized. This is real worship in the beloved community of death and gospel, ashes and intimacy.

—-

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:10 NIV)

For more Ash Wednesday reflections, see this summary from CCblogs.

About these ads

About guy m williams
I am an apprentice of Jesus, a husband and father, and pastor of Atlanta Methodist in Atlanta, Texas. I am passionate about leadership, preaching, and discipleship/Christian spiritual formation. I enjoy family time, reading, and exploring the outdoors.

3 Responses to ashes and intimacy

  1. mindy says:

    Profound, Guy. I personally think is some of your best writing yet.

  2. I agree with Mindy. Great reflective and clear writing. Being the one to impose ashes and pronounce mortality is a bittersweet thing, but such a privilege.

  3. alicia says:

    Well said Guy. Well said. I am always painfully aware that before we observe another Ash Wednesday I will preside over one or more of the faithful’s funeral. It becomes like a long Eve to All Saints Day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 671 other followers

%d bloggers like this: