The clergy in our diocese have a regular conference call with our bishop as a means to touch base and hear what is happening in churches around our region. As we were wrapping up, Bishop Guernsey exhorted us to a good Ash Wednesday with this illustration–
‘I can spend an hour cleaning my entire house. I hit the high spots, the stuff you’ll immediately notice. I get in to a room and then get out as fast as I can.
I can also spend an entire day just cleaning one room: I move furniture, I get the corners, I use small brushes and fine rags.
The difference between the 2 cleanings is a picture of the difference between the 5 seconds we have for ‘confession of sin’ on a typical Sunday and ‘confession of sin’ on Ash Wednesday.’
Our liturgy tomorrow gives us the gift of a lengthy and detailed prayer of confession. We think about specific relationships and arenas of interaction. We look at specific sins of commission and omission. We look for our part in the brokenness of our planet and the larger picture of fallenness. It’s a thorough examination and a good cleaning. We will gather at 6:30am, noon, and 7:30pm. I encourage you to come as early as you can [the 7:30 will be more full and we will be running our shuttle from the lot over I-66].
The service begins in silence, in darkness. There is opportunity for the imputation of ash as a reminder that we come from dust and to dust we shall return. We sing through Psalm 51 and pray through a thorough confession and give thanks that there is a cross and an empty tomb on the other side of these 40 days.
If you are still talking to God about your enemies, this is a logical next place to be.
If you are hoping to be the kind of person who is kind to the ungrateful and the evil, this is the place to ask.
And if you are ready to deal with the log in your eye, then come, sit, worship, pray, and confess with Restoration on Ash Wednesday.
See you tomorrow.