The Awkward Season

I have started day one of “The Awkward Season-Prayers for Lent” by Pamela C. Hawkins today.  As you may have read, this is part of my Lenten commitment; to post each day on my reflections/meditations/readings, etc. 

Today began with a familiar passage from Psalm 51…”Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”  Clean is an interesting word.  I know there have been times when we say, the house needs cleaned when really the house just needs “picked up.”  It isn’t necessarily dirty, but cluttered.  On the other hand, there are times when “CLEAN” is certainly the correct word for the actions needed.  I cannot argue with the fact that I needed cleaned and de-cluttered!

I could spend more time on the “clean” issue, but there is something weighing on me today that is much heavier.  You may read it and think it’s trivial, but nonetheless it is something I have struggled with for some time.  Today’s scripture reading (The Awkward Season) comes from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21.  The summary of this scripture is to not be “showy” with your faith.  Pray in your room and not whaling in public so everyone knows you are praying…clean yourself up when you are fasting so everyone doesn’t know you are fasting…you get it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a fan of the ashes on Ash Wednesday.  I embrace the importance of the season and the time to begin a serious time of reflection for the preparation of Resurrection Sunday.  I argue that many of us have lost the preparation side of this season and want to get right to the celebration of Easter.  So, it is not the worship of Ash Wednesday, the meaning of Ash Wednesday or even the call the remembrance of our mortality that I take issue.  If you read the scripture, you may be able to conclude for yourself my issue.  I take issue with the ashes themselves.  If we are not to be “showy” about our faith, what exactly are the ashes for?  I am not saying they are for show so that others may “know we are Christians by our (ashes)” or anything like that.  It is for our reminder that we use the ashes.  I can appreciate reminders as I live and die by them, but in this case I have a difficult time having ashes on my forehead as my reminder.  Honestly, it seems to resemble some folks talked about in that Matthew scripture from above.

I have a colleague who does not like that I wear a clerics collar occasionally.  I don’t wear it all the time, but occasionally I will and the comment is usually something about being “showy” that I am clergy.  I do not see it that way, but I do respect his/her opinion for thinking that.  I do not see wearing a stole on Sunday morning as being “showy” either, but one could argue that case as well.  I have the title “pastor” on my name tag that I wear on Sunday mornings, but I don’t see that as being “showy.” 

The list goes on and on.  I’m sure you could think of several things that could appear showy in faith and yet are not.  Yes, this is my “issue” and one that I must reconcile is some fashion.  I may never be overly comfortable with the ashes of Ash Wednesday, but that will not keep me from the practice and allowing others to take part in this meaningful worship setting.  After all it’s once a year and I’m quite certain I can handle it that often.

Grace and Peace,