Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dust to Dust

The season of Lent begins with a dimly lit sanctuary and Psalm 51. The remements of last year's palms are mixed with oil and lodge under my fingernails as I paint them on the foreheads of my fellow sinners. The mark of our faith is often traced with water, oil or just a finger itself. Tonight we make our humanity visible in the ashes, signs of this life as creatures of God.

Tonight was especially worshipful as I watched the people of St. John's welcome my favorite season with all of their strength and gifts.

When Brian and Kevin realized that we didn't have any ushers, that offering baskets had been placed near the perimeter, they convened in back to debate how they could help during the communion liturgy. Their leadership is part of how they worship and I smiled with gratitude during their summit.

Deborah and Sarah acted faithfully when they noticed how slowly we were moving through communion without the help of an acolyte. They came alongside us with quiet grace because their leadership is part of how they worship and I smiled with gratitude as they handed each other trays.

The most sacred moment about the service was breaking bread. The loaf that we share most often during worship is a hard, crusty bread. In order to break it (without using my knee!) I have to dig my thumbs deep into the center and rip it with all of my strength. Crumbs fly everywhere and only the very center is soft and fleshy.

On nights like tonight, this bread showed all of my senses what a violent and radical gift we have in Christ's perfect body. The loaf's golden hue, it's crunching as I ripped and pulled, the sweet smell of each piece and the way it felt both rough and tender in my hand - I placed a piece of this body in each pair of hands, watching them taste its truth and grace.

Sometimes it's easy to miss the details or forget the power of these holy moments. When the lights dim causing new reflection, the ashes smell faintly of green spring and the body sprays crumbling flesh all over the table, I suddenly remember. And being present in worship with other believers makes that a beautiful thing.

Because nothing beats remembering together.