The morning afterAsh Wednesday, like Holy Week, has come to be one of my favorite times of the church year. And I forget every year, until I'm in the middle of it, how much I love it.
There's a rhythm to the day that is deeply satisfying. It was even more so in my first job out of seminary, where we offered the traditional Ash Wednesday service three times during the day. At St. C's we have two services, and last night we were joined by many of our brothers and sisters from the ELCA congregation around the corner, which led to a pleasantly full sensation in the nave.
It's the repetition of unique actions and words that I find most appealing as the day goes on. I think that's why I miss that ritual of doing it three times. The first service usually gets the kinks out--where are the ashes, did it work if I knelt here or there, did I blithely add in an "Alleluia" where there shouldn't be one, etc. By the second and third time, the routine has settled in, and I can kneel and pray Psalm 51 and the Litany of Penitence (actually, I got so carried away last night during the Litany of Penitence that I forgot the Lutheran pastor and I were alternating petitions--oops). And there is a different kind of intimacy in making a cross of ashes on someone's forehead than in giving them communion.
We're going over to the Lutherans' for Good Friday. Really, we ought to plan one of these joint service things sometime when we can have a rollicking good party afterwards.
About the affairs of the wider church, I have many thoughts, most of them scattered and ill-defined. I do know I am tired of the Episcopal Church being considered the naughty province that should be in timeout for betraying not actual rules but unspoken boundaries. That is the hallmark of a dysfunctional system. Accepting judgment from a Communique before there's a Covenant seems kind of backwards to me.