by Claire Chinn, Minister of Children's and Mission
If you were to ask me what is the single most sacred moment that I experience as a minister I would not even hesitate to answer with Ash Wednesday. I would quickly follow that up with while Ash Wednesday might be the most sacred moment to me it is also the most difficult.
Ash Wednesday is sacred because we stand inches apart from each other and share a moment where we recognize our mortality. We also acknowledge that we are about to embark on a journey through Lent where we work towards being closer to God- being closer to a moment where we can experience the mercy and love that we find in the Easter story.
Ash Wednesday is sacred because I stand in front of you and place ashes on your forehead and say, “remember you are Dust and to dust you shall return.” And at that moment I recall your story. I recall your pain and struggle- I recall your joys and success. When I place ashes on your forehead, I step into your story, and there is nothing more sacred.
When I place ashes on the forehead on a congregant who has a terminal illness, I found my voice crack as I tell her, that she is dust and to dust, she shall return. The pain and the sacredness at that moment makes the journey towards the resurrection of Jesus that much more powerful.
When I place ashes on the hand of a child, I can't help but feel this sense of uneasiness when I speak those words to a child. That sense of uneasiness is why Ash Wednesday is so important. It puts us in a place where we feel the weight of our salvation, we feel the weight of our lives separated from God.
And in that space- the space between our salvation and our separation from God is where we find those sacred moments. It is where we share our stories with each other as we work towards that moment of resurrection. And at that moment is where I find that sacred tension. It is in stepping into each other's stories where we find God- where we stand in a sacred moment. And that is where Ash Wednesday settles us. It settles us in the sacred moments of our stories that we share together as we journey together towards the cross.
Join us- Join me in the sacred moments of Lent and Easter.