February 18, 2010

where two or more are gathered

Even though our congregation is small, I try to have two different services for Ash Wednesday.  We have an older congregation and it is still wintery outside, so if we only had an evening service - many of our faithful wouldn't venture out in the dark.  But we also have a number of people who work and so if we only had a noon service, they would be missing out as well.

We had a pretty good turnout for our noon service.  There were some technical difficulties as we tried to worship and sing without our usual pianst - but as someone said - that's what makes it special!

I had all of the kinks worked out by the time our 6pm service rolled around.  I had the candles lit and the words of repentance and transformation and discipline scrolling across the screen and music for contemplation playing in the background.  I was waiting for the people to come.

And only one came. 

I stood awkwardly near the back doors and let the opening sequence cycle through again.  Maybe others are just late?... should we just go home?... ugh, singing with just the two of us isn't going to work very well... alright, here we go!

"Well, J, it's just you and me brother"

We read responsively the lyrics to the opening hymn and we heard the scripture proclaimed.  We talked about what the ashes signify and spent time together, though silently in our prayer of confession.  We marked one another with the sign of the cross.  We dustied our foreheads to remind ourselves that we are mortal, we are brittle as year old palm branches, and we need God. We sat together going back and forth with joys and concerns and held hands as we prayed. We talked about the peace that we had found and the peace that we are taking with us into the world for others.

That worship wasn't at all what I had expected it to be.  But it reminded me that worship is an acting out of relationship.  Our relationship to God, our relationship to one another, our relationship to the world.  In our intimate encounters with one another, we can worship our maker.  We can praise our Lord.  We can repent of our sins.  We can recieve forgiveness.  We can offer back a part of ourselves.  We can hear the words of grace and gospel.  We can honor God.  We can send one another forth.

Wherever two or more are gathered in my name... says the Lord.  My prayer for Lent is that I make room for more of those holy and intimite experiences of relationship.

That experience last night has caused me to think much differently about my practices for this entire season, and so one of the things I'm giving up is the hours I spend in front of the television set, alone, wasting time.  I'm allowing myself to watch when I exercise - b/c it's what keeps me motivated, and if my husband wants to watch one of our favorite shows with me - because it is something the draws us close and we can have conversation about.  But no more mindless hours in front of the t.v. set.  I'm seeking out relationships with people and relationships with ideas and my relationship with God through conversation and game nights with others, and through dedicating myself to read some of those "God" books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while now and spending time in prayer and reflection around them.

1 comment:

  1. Great story. Great Lenten discipline. May God strengthen your resolve in the weak moments.