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Ash-WednesdayToday is Ash Wednesday.  This day marks the beginning of the Christian observance of Lent.  Lent is a time of contemplation, reflection, and repentance, as we journey through the prophecy and events of Christ’s death. All this as we prepare for the festive celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.

For today we focus on the start of that journey.  Today we are reminded of our own mortality.  Today we hear the words “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” These words are spoken to many of us as the sign of the cross is placed on our forehead in ash.  Mortality is something that is hard for many of us to imagine.

This year with the passing of my father in June and my mother and brother-in-law in December, I am much more “in tune” with my own mortality. A couple of weeks ago my wife visited with her Dad about affairs of his estate.  Some days later in a conversation with one of the little boys my wife watches news of this discussion came up. The little boys asked “Why were you talking to your Dad about what happens when he dies?” “Because someday my Dad will die and I need to be prepared.” “Yeah, but why would you need to talk about it now?”  Mortality is not even on the radar of a 9 year old.

I pray today it is on your radar as we must face the reality of our coming bodily death. By remembering our mortality we are drawn to the immortal, God who longs to welcome us from this world to the next. Today we are reminded of this through the imposition of ashes, and somber reflection, But who has time for somber reflection these days.  This morning, while driving home from my Wednesday morning Bible study, I heard on the radio about a fast food substitute for the Ash Wednesday time crunch.  

Photo of Alabaster First United Methodist Church Executive Pastor Mike Densmore offering drive though ashes with no need to get out of our car. (photo from 2014)

Photo of Alabaster First United Methodist Church Executive Pastor Mike Densmore offering drive though ashes with no need to get out of our car. (photo from 2014)

Enter the world of the Drive-Thru-Ashes.  These express lanes are popping up in more then just one or two places this year. After looking online for more information I found several churches across the country that now offer this fast food method of imposing ashes.  To say I have mixed feeling about this is an understatement.

I like the idea of making this “reminder” available to the masses,  but my greater concern is what is the motivation to “drive-thru.”  Does the person in the car do this out of some obligation to check something off their list of things to do today?  Do they do this out of an attempt to please God, or worse yet, to not make God mad?

We live in a world that has trouble slowing down.  But that is what this season is all about, slowing down and reflecting.  What does it say when we can’t slow down long enough to begin to slow down.  I feel for the single mom or dad who is working two jobs, and does not have time to attend Ash Wednesday worship, and wants the reminder of this day.  These people are the small minority of people who would use this drive thru.

Life is full of choices and we, the people of God, need to start making some hard choices about our time.  We all need to learn to slow down long enough to Ponder God.  This is going to come at the expense of some things on our calendar. There might even be some push back from others. Doing the right thing has never been easy, but doing the easy thing has seldom been right.

Take time to slow down in these 40 days and do some God Pondering and I promise you that you will be glad you did!

<>< Craig

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