Ash Wednesday

Because we rent space in someone else’s building, it is inevitable that there will be scheduling conflicts.  I ran into this while trying to plan an Ash Wednesday vigil for our newest congregation that meets on Ridge Ave. The problem turned into an opportunity. If Ash Wednesday is all about letting what needs to burn, burn—why not have a fire? Like, a big one. If it is about entering into the grief of being separated from God, why not go into the darkness? If a Lenten fast is about repentance and renewal, why not begin by using our whole bodies to get into the disciplined journey?

We decided to meet outside around a fire in the pavilion at Fernhill Park. Sure it will be inconvenient. And some people won’t like the cold. But we need deep, spiritual experiences that engage our whole bodies.  We need rest and relief from the heaviness of our lives (a quick search for “relief” Meet Ups in Philly confirms that). The temporary ways we try to escape our sorrow and weariness are not enough. We need a longer journey that ends in the transformation. Ash Wednesday is an opportunity to begin. We take the sign of the cross and turn our face toward suffering, knowing that Resurrection is coming. We join each other and millions of Jesus-followers around the world and throughout history to burn what needs to be cleaned out, letting the ashes mark us not only for death, but for new life that comes through Jesus.

Each of our congregations will be holding an Ash Wednesday vigil. Find one near you. Enter into a deep spiritual journey for Lent. Forty days may sound like a long time, but we help each other along. There will opportunities for rest and renewal and lots of other resources for deepening. Visit our website for all the ways you can engage.

-Julie Hoke

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