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Thread: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

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    Full Member Jon Privett's Avatar

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    Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Friends,

    I grew up without an Ash Wednesday service. In fact, I was in my 40's pastoring a church in Boise when I attended my first Ash Wednesday service at NNU chapel when my friend Diane LeClerc gave the message. I was so deeply moved that ever since, the past 10 years or so I have conducted a full Ash Wednesday service. Songs, Scriptures, Message and Imposition of Ashes.

    We will have 400-500 on Easter but this service ranks the lowest at a poor 25 or 30. It seems all too-Catholic for my tribe. I've given it my best shot to educate folks on Ashes to Fire and they like the Devotional, the focus, the directive, the messages, the preaching.....and will come for Good Friday (about 80 or so) and we will have 200 or more at Easter Breakfast, but Ash Wednesday just is not that big a thing for most I pastor.

    Someone mentioned to me last night: "Is this our Catholic Nazarene service?" I've taught history that this predates Catholicism by a country mile, a sign or repentance, and read all the great texts on sackcloth and ashes but to little avail. It seems to be a cultural thing, a response by those in the 'free church' tradition to less liturgy, etc.

    And yet, despite the smallness of it, Ash Wednesday is necessary for my soul. I cannot get to Resurrection without repentance and the sign of the smallness of it all, is required for me.

    Anyone out there have a similar experience?

    Jon
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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    I think that's true many places. There was a Facebook discussion among pastors on my district this morning centered around the idea that ashes were a sign of penance and that penance is not something Christians need do because of grace. I think it's bigger than that - as you've said - but I wonder about the cultural holiness generalizations in our past, the idea that sanctified people don't need to repent because they don't sin, if that has an impact on the way we view the service.

    I also know there's still a lot of anti-catholic bias out there. I grew up in a congregation where most people believed catholicism wasn't real faith and catholics were just pretend Christians. That exists.

    I also wonder if our "happy all the time," upbeat, gotta be better than the next church worship atmosphere turns people off to the harsher realities of life and faith.
    ...just my $.02.

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    Senior Member Diane Likens's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    I grew up with Ash Wednesday being the start of 40-plus days of complete and total awe and reverence. Since moving to the deep south, I find that if I want an Ash Wednesday service, I have to go to the local Catholic church.

    Culturally (at least in this rural Northeast Georgia area) it appears that Christmas is the "Christian holiday season". Don't get me wrong -- Easter Sunday is a really big deal here but Palm Sunday isn't, nor is Good Friday. This cultural attitude is quite different from my own.

    I see Christmas as the promise made, which in and of itself is a really good thing. But it's not the basis of my Christianity. Ash Wednesday starts my reverent season. I guess I still need the symbolism of the Imposition of Ashes. It's always just been such a moving experience for me and I think it's when I feel closest to my Saviour. He and I walk closely together during the Lenten Season. To me Good Friday is the promise fulfilled and Easter is the undeniable Truth revealed.
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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Privett View Post
    Anyone out there have a similar experience?
    Not on the same scale, but yes.

    I think you've hit on a lot of the cultural reasons. From a (folk) theological standpoint, things like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday/Maundy Thursday services are uncomfortable areas. There is hesitance to 'celebrate' (observe) the low points of the Church Year, because they seem to be at odds with the high points. Why should we spend 47 days in structured penitence if we have already been declared righteous by God? Why mourn the death of Christ when he has already been raised? Or in the case of advent, why spend time anticipating the coming of the King and his Kingdom when that Kingdom is already at hand? We want a theology that encourages us to live "from glory to glory," and scheduling things like mourning and penitence into our calendar don't really fit that goal. It's one thing to mourn when something bad actually happens, or to repent when we actually sin, but scheduling these things without regard for whether they're necessary? That really doesn't fit the common theology of the US.

    One of my biggest frustrations is that by ignoring these things, we end up missing out on the whole story- Christ is born, then he does a bunch of great things, then enters Jerusalem triumphantly, and the next thing we know, he's being raised from the dead. We don't have to deal with all of Jesus' calls to repentance, because we're under grace. Even though the blood of Christ gets WAY too much press in proportion to the rest of the atonement, we don't bother really facing what caused that blood to be shed. Instead of grasping just how desperately Jesus was needed, we spend the time leading up to Christmas planning the vicarious birthday party we'll be throwing for ourselves on his behalf. And we're left with a gospel that's one long happy story, without any real depth or sense of why God sent Christ in the first place, or why the atonement was necessary.


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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Jon, we've never had an Ash Wednesday service, but we do hold short services each night during the Holy Week. The number of attendents usually grows when we're heading towards Good Friday. It is quite common for protestant churches to have Good Friday serveces here.
    We typically start with some 30-40 people on Monday, and would have double that number on Friday. In a 230 member church, we're not complaining, for these services are totally out of the ordinary. Short, solemn, focussed on the Lord's suffering. Not quite our typical Sunday service.
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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    I played for two Ash Wednesday services yesterday at a local Episcopal church. Even with hearing the same verses and words and singing/playing the same songs I found the services to be very moving. I liken the whole of Lent as other denominations' version of our revival services. For those who grew up in the CotN with twice a year revival services, they would be familiar with the concept of needing to be revived spiritually through church services. The difference is that those churches which observe Lent are still doing so while many Nazarene churches have stopped doing them all together.

    I am not one who is into excessive mourning or beating myself up spiritually [I've had that done to me in the past and think it can become abusive] but there is still a refreshing reminder as I sit in services that God still calls all his children into a holy relationship with Him.
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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Privett View Post
    Friends,

    I grew up without an Ash Wednesday service. In fact, I was in my 40's pastoring a church in Boise when I attended my first Ash Wednesday service at NNU chapel when my friend Diane LeClerc gave the message. I was so deeply moved that ever since, the past 10 years or so I have conducted a full Ash Wednesday service. Songs, Scriptures, Message and Imposition of Ashes.

    We will have 400-500 on Easter but this service ranks the lowest at a poor 25 or 30. It seems all too-Catholic for my tribe. I've given it my best shot to educate folks on Ashes to Fire and they like the Devotional, the focus, the directive, the messages, the preaching.....and will come for Good Friday (about 80 or so) and we will have 200 or more at Easter Breakfast, but Ash Wednesday just is not that big a thing for most I pastor.

    Someone mentioned to me last night: "Is this our Catholic Nazarene service?" I've taught history that this predates Catholicism by a country mile, a sign or repentance, and read all the great texts on sackcloth and ashes but to little avail. It seems to be a cultural thing, a response by those in the 'free church' tradition to less liturgy, etc.

    And yet, despite the smallness of it, Ash Wednesday is necessary for my soul. I cannot get to Resurrection without repentance and the sign of the smallness of it all, is required for me.

    Anyone out there have a similar experience?

    Jon
    We had 40 last evening for Ash Wednesday supper/service. Easter might bring as many as 90 out.

    Ours is a scripted service -- no preaching. Prayers, scripture, explanation of the season, a capella singing, imposition of ashes, communion. The biggest difference between this year and last was perhaps moving to the new NIV for the scripture. We have a few who avoid it because it's too scripted, too Catholic, too weird, or too something-else, but most of our normal Wednesday evening small group crowd was there plus extras. Those who didn't feel comfortable having ashes put on their forehead could pick up a red card at the front pew and have their ashes put there. Having that option might help. It might also help that Wednesday evening church attendance is already part of our DNA.

    I think it's great that you provide it for the few who come.

    Marsha

    Edited to add: I think this is our third year for Ash Wednesday. Last year we added a scripted Good Friday service. We also use the scripted service format for the Hanging of the Greens, and Christmas Eve and often have visitors from other churches for those.
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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    We don't have an Ash Wednesday service, nor have any church I've attended since as a young boy my parents took me to the Catholic church. Maybe I don't know enough of the history behind it, but I'll admit that my pastor would have to really coax me to get me to go. Then I'm going to make an educated guess that we would have a total attendance of four, if our wives would attend, I'm pretty sure that my wife would balk at the thought.

    I must admit that I'm also no fan of Christmas or Easter either, excepting that they are good times to reach people who wouldn't ordinarily hear, and that they are the appropriate times to tell the advent, crucifixion and resurrection stories. No fan of symbolic liturgy, it doesn't draw me closer in the least, I'm interested in hearing about God and hearing how he works within me to bring me closer to him. I want to hear it straight up with words, I'll generally pass on symbolic means to tell the story. But that's just me, or is it? Yes for sure, I'm a less liturgy kind of guy, for me liturgy instills a sense of coldness and mechanized or forced worship, I do enjoy watching a liturgical service from time to time, but it's theater for me, not worship.

    But we do ashes to fire and I'm excited about it. We skip ash Wednesday and we use the materials to tell the story in a structured way. It's one time during the year that I know that my pastor and I are reading the same material during the week. As he puts his sermon together and I pick and organize the music, we both draw from the same texts, I think this adds a lot to the services.

    Another thought towards this is that if what we are doing doesn't minister to our congregation, then why do it? Not a criticism, just the thought that I put before myself every week as I select the music. It isn't for me, it's for them.

    And it's a small world, Dianne Cunningham LeClerc was one of my wife's bridesmaids. We went to her installation service at her first church in Berwick, ME. And I don't wish to recall how many years ago was that.
    -Jim

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    Senior Member Lucas Finch's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    The only regular service during the week that my church has is on Sunday mornings, though there are also a number of small groups and Bible studies during the week. I do an Ash Wednesday service with my teens, though. Thus far, I haven't given ashes (I think that they would find it very strange and it would thus be a distraction). With the music, Scripture, and explanation, I call them to reflect upon their past sins and to write them down. Then, I have them place the sheets of paper onto some hot coals, watching their sins be burned up. I also encourage them to participate in Lent observation.

    It was a particularly powerful service for most of my teens that were here last night. They are not the most reflective group, so leading up to it I always question in my mind whether or not it will be worthwhile. But after watching their participation and responses, I am glad that I did it.
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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chabot View Post
    Yes for sure, I'm a less liturgy kind of guy, for me liturgy instills a sense of coldness and mechanized or forced worship, I do enjoy watching a liturgical service from time to time, but it's theater for me, not worship.
    I'll just make a comment on our word choices - I think you'll agree with me. You really aren't a fan of the formality of the liturgy. Every worshipping body has a liturgy, just many of them are informal.

    I tend to prefer a non-traditional formality, but you don't find those too many places.
    ...just my $.02.
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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    I'll just make a comment on our word choices - I think you'll agree with me. You really aren't a fan of the formality of the liturgy. Every worshipping body has a liturgy, just many of them are informal.

    I tend to prefer a non-traditional formality, but you don't find those too many places.
    Yes, I'll agree with you, liturgy must exist, it is the particular form to which we turn either toward or away.

    While I'm no fan of formal "high church" liturgy due to the cold mechanical feeling that I come away with, I can also say that I'm no fan of any liturgy either formal or informal that "pushes" worship. While I realize that Wesley was referring to holiness when he said that we should be always drawing and never driving, I do find wisdom in his words should they be directed toward corporate worship. Always drawing and never driving. Driving for me always sends me away rather than towards.
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    Senior Member Wilson Deaton's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Do you have a regular Wednesday evening service? If so, what is the difference between THAT service average attendance and your Ash Wednesday service?

    By the way, I don't have an Ash Wednesday service. My worst attended service is our Easter Sunrise service. I think I know why. We do it outside by the lake (Lake Michigan) where it's usually cold and its at like 6:30 in the morning!

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilson Deaton View Post
    Do you have a regular Wednesday evening service? If so, what is the difference between THAT service average attendance and your Ash Wednesday service?

    By the way, I don't have an Ash Wednesday service. My worst attended service is our Easter Sunrise service. I think I know why. We do it outside by the lake (Lake Michigan) where it's usually cold and its at like 6:30 in the morning!

    Wilson
    I'm sorry, Pastor Wilson, but I will be unable to attend the Easter Sunrise service this year. I inadvertently scheduled a conflicting appointment with my pillow for that morning.

    (I'm thinking Easter sunrises in Wisconsin are way overrated, even if you ARE on the right side of the lake for them.)
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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    I think that's true many places. There was a Facebook discussion among pastors on my district this morning centered around the idea that ashes were a sign of penance and that penance is not something Christians need do because of grace. I think it's bigger than that - as you've said - but I wonder about the cultural holiness generalizations in our past, the idea that sanctified people don't need to repent because they don't sin, if that has an impact on the way we view the service.

    I also know there's still a lot of anti-catholic bias out there. I grew up in a congregation where most people believed catholicism wasn't real faith and catholics were just pretend Christians. That exists.

    I also wonder if our "happy all the time," upbeat, gotta be better than the next church worship atmosphere turns people off to the harsher realities of life and faith.
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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Privett View Post
    Friends,

    I grew up without an Ash Wednesday service. In fact, I was in my 40's pastoring a church in Boise when I attended my first Ash Wednesday service at NNU chapel when my friend Diane LeClerc gave the message. I was so deeply moved that ever since, the past 10 years or so I have conducted a full Ash Wednesday service. Songs, Scriptures, Message and Imposition of Ashes.

    We will have 400-500 on Easter but this service ranks the lowest at a poor 25 or 30. It seems all too-Catholic for my tribe. I've given it my best shot to educate folks on Ashes to Fire and they like the Devotional, the focus, the directive, the messages, the preaching.....and will come for Good Friday (about 80 or so) and we will have 200 or more at Easter Breakfast, but Ash Wednesday just is not that big a thing for most I pastor.

    Someone mentioned to me last night: "Is this our Catholic Nazarene service?" I've taught history that this predates Catholicism by a country mile, a sign or repentance, and read all the great texts on sackcloth and ashes but to little avail. It seems to be a cultural thing, a response by those in the 'free church' tradition to less liturgy, etc.

    And yet, despite the smallness of it, Ash Wednesday is necessary for my soul. I cannot get to Resurrection without repentance and the sign of the smallness of it all, is required for me.

    Anyone out there have a similar experience?

    Jon
    In the past several years, we have started to do some of this at MNU and Olathe College Church.
    It may not have much established Nazarene historical support, but is quite moving and valuable.

    BILL
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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    I think that's true many places. There was a Facebook discussion among pastors on my district this morning centered around the idea that ashes were a sign of penance and that penance is not something Christians need do because of grace. I think it's bigger than that - as you've said - but I wonder about the cultural holiness generalizations in our past, the idea that sanctified people don't need to repent because they don't sin, if that has an impact on the way we view the service.

    I also know there's still a lot of anti-catholic bias out there. I grew up in a congregation where most people believed catholicism wasn't real faith and catholics were just pretend Christians. That exists.

    I also wonder if our "happy all the time," upbeat, gotta be better than the next church worship atmosphere turns people off to the harsher realities of life and faith.
    I have been impressed by how well stuff like this has been accepted here. We still don't quite have it down, however. It's not as though we have many former Catholics or Lutherans among us. We're way too informal to pull off the formal service stuff without it seeming like we're playing a role that's not quite a good fit.

    I have attended Saturday evening mass at a Catholic church in the area a couple of times. One thing they do that we can't duplicate is keep their formality from beginning to end. I observed little socializing before the service and almost none afterward. People entered and exited quietly and went their way.

    In contrast, we had people with ashes on their foreheads standing around chatting for a good half hour after the Ash Wednesday service with little show of residual penitence.

    It's still a nice service, but I feel like we're sort of like children playing at adult rituals and not quite getting it right.

    Marsha
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    Full Member Jon Privett's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shea Zellweger View Post
    Not on the same scale, but yes.

    I think you've hit on a lot of the cultural reasons. From a (folk) theological standpoint, things like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday/Maundy Thursday services are uncomfortable areas. There is hesitance to 'celebrate' (observe) the low points of the Church Year, because they seem to be at odds with the high points. Why should we spend 47 days in structured penitence if we have already been declared righteous by God? Why mourn the death of Christ when he has already been raised? Or in the case of advent, why spend time anticipating the coming of the King and his Kingdom when that Kingdom is already at hand? We want a theology that encourages us to live "from glory to glory," and scheduling things like mourning and penitence into our calendar don't really fit that goal. It's one thing to mourn when something bad actually happens, or to repent when we actually sin, but scheduling these things without regard for whether they're necessary? That really doesn't fit the common theology of the US.

    One of my biggest frustrations is that by ignoring these things, we end up missing out on the whole story- Christ is born, then he does a bunch of great things, then enters Jerusalem triumphantly, and the next thing we know, he's being raised from the dead. We don't have to deal with all of Jesus' calls to repentance, because we're under grace. Even though the blood of Christ gets WAY too much press in proportion to the rest of the atonement, we don't bother really facing what caused that blood to be shed. Instead of grasping just how desperately Jesus was needed, we spend the time leading up to Christmas planning the vicarious birthday party we'll be throwing for ourselves on his behalf. And we're left with a gospel that's one long happy story, without any real depth or sense of why God sent Christ in the first place, or why the atonement was necessary.
    Shea,

    You killed it. You nailed it. You smoked it. You landed the big one. You just put it all together in one paragraph that defines WHY I have to start Christmas five weeks ahead of time and read all of the yearning and heartache of the longing of the whole OT for the Christ to come. I love telling the WHOLE story of the OT to simply get to Christmas as I hung 25 ornaments on the Jesse Tree. I loved every minute of it. Honestly I have beat the three chapters of the infancy narratives to death!

    And now, I never quite understood that we only told the Resurrection story over and over and we never ever got the passion down. No one wanted to see Jesus die, that was Catholics....they only have a dead Jesus on the Cross. We do not. I have actually needed at times to dwell and think and look at Jesus on the Cross because I need to breathe out the seven words of the Cross again and again.

    You hit it on the head.....we only want the happy stuff.....the easy stuff. ...the divine Jesus floating 20 feet off the ground never having a fear.....and certainly not the Garden.....at least we got serious about a Catholicized version of the Passion and use it evangelically...the Passion of the Christ.....

    So, I'm done with the reduced, one size fits all, generic pablum of feel good grace talk without the Cross.

    Line me up with Bonhoeffer. I'm ready to die for a Jesus who dies for me. As far as the happy feel good over use of Jeremiah 29:11 and our 'canon within a canon', cliche promises, power point feel good mantras from Chopra-like megapastors.....count me out.

    Thanks,.....I clipped the quote and pasted it in my computer to read on the Lenten journey....

    Jon
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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsha Lynn View Post
    I'm sorry, Pastor Wilson, but I will be unable to attend the Easter Sunrise service this year. I inadvertently scheduled a conflicting appointment with my pillow for that morning.

    (I'm thinking Easter sunrises in Wisconsin are way overrated, even if you ARE on the right side of the lake for them.)
    Yes, our side of the lake gets nice sunsets, while Wisconsin gets the sunrises over the lake. Maybe we could have a night-before sunset service on the East side of the Lake instead of a sunrise service?

    Anyway, Jon, your mention of "overuse of Jeremiah 29:11" made me think of why some may hang on that verse ... to have some hope when living in less-than-normal circumstances that they need to be able to look beyond those circumstances, somehow, perhaps? Just a tho't re not being too harsh on those in already-hard circumstances.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    And now for a lighter note . . . a friend I was sitting with in last night's Ash Wednesday service got tickled, in spite of its being a serious service. You see, she'd grown up Catholic, & suddenly that upbringing took over when she called pastor "Father" (during the placing of ashes)
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    Senior Member Bill Morrison's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Privett View Post
    Shea,

    You killed it. You nailed it. You smoked it. You landed the big one. You just put it all together in one paragraph that defines WHY
    Jon
    Jon:
    You will find Shea is one of several Naznetters who can do what you pointed out with many topics, even when it is an issue where he may be located at a different place on the spectrum than you are.
    I just pray that his sojourn in Lenexa doesn't rot his mind

    BILL
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    Senior Member Jeremy D. Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Privett View Post
    And now, I never quite understood that we only told the Resurrection story over and over and we never ever got the passion down. No one wanted to see Jesus die, that was Catholics....they only have a dead Jesus on the Cross. We do not. I have actually needed at times to dwell and think and look at Jesus on the Cross because I need to breathe out the seven words of the Cross again and again.
    Two things:
    1. For those for whom the Bible is next to God in authority, it may help to point out that there is significantly more time and space in the gospels spent on the passion than on the Resurrection. As you know, Mark almost forgot it!
    2. During Lent & Easter, we put up a much different cross in our sanctuary than the nice 5' tall polyurethaned and polished one that hangs there the rest of the year. While it's not a crucifix, it is still a rather crude one, something I built myself from some 2x4s and painted with big nails in it and ropes hanging on it. Rather than hanging on the wall, we suspend it from the ceiling. It's kind of hard to miss and my hope has been that it drives home what Christ has done for us in these two seasons. It's draped in purple during Lent and white during Easter. I don't mind a crucifix, but it wouldn't fly in my congregation. I think this is a good substitute.

    Poor pictures, but you get the point:

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsha Lynn View Post
    I'm sorry, Pastor Wilson, but I will be unable to attend the Easter Sunrise service this year. I inadvertently scheduled a conflicting appointment with my pillow for that morning.

    (I'm thinking Easter sunrises in Wisconsin are way overrated, even if you ARE on the right side of the lake for them.)
    Ah. Another communicant of Bedside Baptist.

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    I attended my first Ash Wednesday service last night. Since it was a small group (30+) the service was held in the Fireside Room (parlor). The liturgy was simple, the singing was a capella, the pastor moved around the room with the ashes.

    Ironically, I first came into contact with NN as a result of Ash Wednesday. I was reading a newspaper story in the LA Times about the increasing observance of Ash Wednesday among Protestants who had heretofore shied away from these types of ritual. One of the people quoted in the story was Dennis Bratcher and there was a link to his website. In those days the website included a forum and, in the course of reading it, there was a link to NN. And the rest, as they say, is history..............
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    Senior Member Nate Pruitt's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    In response to the OP. Jon, do you ever sing laments in worship? (Another thing our happy churches don't find necessary "thanks to grace" it seems.) I've found that has been the single greatest difficulty our church has had with Ash Wednesday (and they love Ashes to Fire), or even Good Friday services. Culturally it seems that mourning and church can't be synonymous- even if such mourning is still purposed to once more remind us of the ultimate restoration of Christ and in Christ.

    I cannot begin to explain how much ground work this leaves me to cover in counseling those who grieve.
    Seeking to participate in the recreation of that which was called "good" and is being renewed. natepruitt.com My author page on Amazon.
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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nate Pruitt View Post
    In response to the OP. Jon, do you ever sing laments in worship? (Another thing our happy churches don't find necessary "thanks to grace" it seems.) I've found that has been the single greatest difficulty our church has had with As Wednesday (and they love Ashes to Fire), or even Good Friday services. Culturally it seems that mourning and church can't be synonymous- even if such mourning is still purposed to once more remind us of the ultimate restoration of Christ and in Christ.

    I cannot begin to explain how much ground work this leaves me to cover in counseling those who grieve.
    I think the 'I'm so happy, I'm so happy, I'm so happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy (ad infinitum).....happy all the time!' thing is in the 'evangelical' DNA. You'd think some of these people never read the Psalms.

    I worked for a time with a minister who was fond of the rhetoric that went "Is the song of your life written in a minor key? When you invite the great composer and arranger (presumably Jesus) into your life, you'll be singing a happy song." I'd bravely grit my teeth and smile - you might think of my response as hypocrisy for a good cause.

    Actually some of the most beautiful and moving music I've ever heard is in a minor key. I don't want an unvarying diet of it, but I'm not really taken with an unvarying diet of anything. I've never been a fan of Accordion Radio (you know, all accordion all the time).

    Because of grace we don't need lamentation. Because of being spirit-filled, we don't need confession. Because of a lack of balance, we deprive ourselves of some incredibly enriching devotional resources. And, quite possibly, because of a lack of balance, we increase our level of vulnerability and susceptibility to that most deadly of sins, spiritual pride.
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    Full Member Jon Privett's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nate Pruitt View Post
    In response to the OP. Jon, do you ever sing laments in worship? (Another thing our happy churches don't find necessary "thanks to grace" it seems.) I've found that has been the single greatest difficulty our church has had with Ash Wednesday (and they love Ashes to Fire), or even Good Friday services. Culturally it seems that mourning and church can't be synonymous- even if such mourning is still purposed to once more remind us of the ultimate restoration of Christ and in Christ.

    I cannot begin to explain how much ground work this leaves me to cover in counseling those who grieve.
    Hmmm....

    So it seems that mourning is avoided more and more. More cremations and less actual services for the dead to be committed to God in hope of the resurrection......just a keg and a BBQ at a later date (and I have no huge issue for cremation really).

    And any sign of loss is less than faith, a byproduct of Word-of-Faith misery. And loss of power or health or wealth, is a sign of 'sin' in lack of trust, belief, prayer, etc.

    Nate you hit it! The grieving cannot go to church because they are told to cry for two weeks and then they should be done. Those who have lost children are told they 'will have another one'. We have so many ways of avoiding pain that I am sure Ash Wednesday is sort of like preventive medicine, we avoid it at our own peril.

    So, Ash Wednesday is a sign of those who are serious about moving past the idols of self-fulfillment in a church culture warped by faith in God as some kind of instant gratification.

    Good Friday is actually the only service that seem to be allowable for my tribe. I will have 90 at best.....so the number begins to grow.....slowly....and the restoration promised in the Resurrection lasts beyond Easter sunrise as it should because I am changed in the preparation for it, and all those who weep, mourn and wail. In fact, it seems we are quite uncomfortable when someone really wails at church....as if that is nothing but an appropriate response to the work of grace in moments of loss.

    Thanks Nate.....

    Jon
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  26. #26
    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Privett View Post
    Nate you hit it! The grieving cannot go to church because they are told to cry for two weeks and then they should be done. Those who have lost children are told they 'will have another one'. We have so many ways of avoiding pain that I am sure Ash Wednesday is sort of like preventive medicine, we avoid it at our own peril.
    Can I offer a little push back on this one? As one who has spent plenty of time grieving and yes I spend every lenten season in pretty deep thought regarding the passion and all that Jesus went through for our sake. Although my thoughts generally run deeper than that, my thoughts often go to the pain that our Father suffered as He watched His Son suffer pain at our hand. The passion is incomplete without the thought that "God gave His Son."

    I'm also not one who seeks to avoid pain, I watch Gibson's Passion of The Christ every year, I want to remember and I want to remember in a real way. Gibson's film has been the first I've seen that displays the passion with any sense of accuracy and reality. And he doesn't forget the Fathers pain as he shows the first raindrop as a tear from God's eye. Just the other night we watched a three hour documentary on Pius XII and his interaction with the jews and nazi's during the occupation of Rome. We need to remember in this time of leisure and comfort that there is evil in the world, our faith is serious business and we may be called to make a decision to recant or be killed or tortured as some have. I watched the beheading of Daniel Pearl, I'll take my pain full strength, I want to be affected by reality rather than by stories.

    With that said, I'll grieve privately, and I'll make this decision on my own and stick to it. Your criticism of those who play the happy face game is well taken, I'm not a fan of that sort of thing as it seeks to force a "lets all get along on my terms" sort of community. Everybody must be happy or your out. And I hear you when you say that many Christians avoid the realization that we are bought with a great price, we avoid the fact that it was our sin, both corporately and individually, that required God to purchase us with the price being His only Son. I hear that because I need to be sensitive which videos I use when I sing at this time of the year. The "white" folks don't like the ones which include scenes from the passion.

    At the same time, an ash Wednesday service imposed upon a congregation who avoids it? Isn't this similar in opposing fashion to telling grieving people to cheer up? While we may be correct in observing peoples prejudices and the things that shape their affinity to participation, shouldn't we also appraise our own prejudices as we seek to minister? I'm reminded of a saying that is repeated at the start of every Lion's club meeting, I think it's important as we seek to form authentic community. "Never above you, never beneath you, always with you."

    I'm glad for the approach that we are taking at our tiny little church. Ash Wednesday is a bridge too far for our people. While we can accomplish the same as we use Ashes to Fire in the days approaching Easter, we can bring the story of the passion and our participation in it through Good Friday. Depending upon the congregation, I would think that Ash Wednesday becomes counter productive. We can't push people into being sad and more than we can push them into being happy, one is no more correct than the other.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor
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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    I tried Ashes to Fire last year and tossed it in the trash. (And I tend to be liturgical and high church and too catholic for some.) It came across to me personally as too new age and contrived. Just my opinion and if you are blessed by it, fantastic.

    I think I live in a different corner of the world from some of you. We DON'T have nothing but slap happy services. We do face death and mourning and sin and the need for repentance. In fact we face them very frequently in our services.

    So that said, we don't need Lent in the sense of that being the only time we do those things.

    If the laity don't want it, why try to force it?

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    Host Sports forum Shea Zellweger's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah Smith View Post
    If the laity don't want it, why try to force it?
    Because people don't always want what they need


    Read my Book. It'll do you good.

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    Senior Member Lucas Finch's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    After reading the more recent responses here, I wonder if the best approach to take with an Ash Wednesday service (and other such services) in a setting in which such things are outside the norm is this: Rather than promoting it as a full church service and being grieved when only a few show up, maybe from the start it should be viewed as a "special" service specifically for those who feel like they will get something out of it.

    The first time that I ever experienced a Maundy Thursday service was back when I was an on-campus student at NNU (it was either in 1999 or 2000). Thursday wasn't a regular chapel day, but they still had a timeframe for "chapel" events. I saw a Maundy Thursday communion service advertized, and I was really feeling the need for communion, so I went. And it was very meaningful for me. It would not have been for everyone, though.

    A week before I did my Ash Wednesday service with my teens, I told them a little about what Ash Wednesday and Lent are, and I specifically told them that if they only reason they come to youth group is to have fun and hang out with friends, please do not come that night. I did not want them to be a distraction. And I was down several (although there were also some there that I would have expected to not come because of my announcement). But from what I could tell, it really was a meaningful experience for at least most of those who came.
    If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
    Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:2

    So when the gospel is diminished to a question of whether or not a person will “get into heaven,” that reduces the good news to a ticket, a way to get past the bouncer and into the club. The good news is better than that.
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    Senior Member John Reilly's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Hi All, Very interesting thread .. thank you. As an encouragement to you all ... we had a wonderful, grace filled Ash Wednesday Service as the kick off of our 3rd Annual All Church Ashes to Fire Journey. Prior to Ashes to Fire, I would offer a low key Ash Wednesday Service with prayer, scriptures and ashes as part of our regular Wed. night prayer meeting. We still offer a traditional prayer meeting service with hymns and congregational prayer. The first year of Ashes to Fire we had an attendance nearly equal to a Sunday morning service with the drama of the UPS delivery man arriving during service so everyone could receive their journals. This year again I was very pleased with the attendance with some children, families, teens, young and old attending. I explain the historical meaning of ashes and repentance from the Old Testament and New. We use a liturgy including a Prayer of Penitence and the affirmation of our faith using the Apostles Creed. I also play a few of the songs from the cd. People are invited to come forward and receive the mark of ashes. I explain that I burn the left over palms from Palm Sunday and mix the ash with olive oil to make a moist paste to make a clear black mark. The service was 75 minutes including a brief homily. This year to shorten the service I did not offer communion. The last two years with communion the service was even longer. For me I feel that the attitude of repentance ought to linger a bit before we next take the sacrament of communion. So I felt great following our Spirit filled service, filled with God's grace. And nearly everyone receives and participates in the Ashes to Fire Journey with the prayer journal. The church offers a journal to everyone and we ask for people to donate to the cost as able. SO some in my church give a love gift of $200 to buy journals. The Ashes to Fire Journey is a unifying spiritual journey for our church. So grateful NPH is offering this excellent program.
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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shea Zellweger View Post
    Because people don't always want what they need
    I believe that this is true, however the old saying is true. You can lead a horse to water.................. Beyond that you must now drown the horse. One of the hallmarks of a good pastor is the realization of the impossibility of force, and the utter foolishness of those who insist upon it.

    I know that I feel pretty deeply about presenting songs to our congregation that carry spiritual nourishment and that will hopefully bring good theological teaching. I'm pretty convinced that I can get this done without ever using a song written in the last 30-40 years or so. But they aren't going to have it, and I realize it. So I need to pick through the newer popular stuff and find ways to get the message across in ways that are well received. I've learned that the joy that comes with bringing a song that blesses someone else is far greater than the angst which comes should I bring something that deeply touches me and not others.

    My teacher was grape soda. Years ago I was in the service station business, before the days of convenience stores most stations would have a soda machine or two or three. They were low overhead money makers and they helped bring in customers. When I purchased my first soda machine it came with 50 cases of soda, the salesman recommended 20 coke, 15 diet coke, 5 sprite, 5 root beer and 5 orange to start off with. The problem was that my favorite was grape. So I ordered 20 coke, 5 diet coke, 5 sprite, 5 root beer and 15 grape. It's been many years since that mistake, and still I can remember that I drank pretty much every one of those grape sodas myself, since no one was buying them. I haven't drank a can of grape soda since then, nor would I presume again that everyone else shared my taste.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor

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    Full Member Jon Privett's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Jim,

    You wrote:
    At the same time, an ash Wednesday service imposed upon a congregation who avoids it? Isn't this similar in opposing fashion to telling grieving people to cheer up? While we may be correct in observing peoples prejudices and the things that shape their affinity to participation, shouldn't we also appraise our own prejudices as we seek to minister? I'm reminded of a saying that is repeated at the start of every Lion's club meeting, I think it's important as we seek to form authentic community. "Never above you, never beneath you, always with you."

    My reply:

    Thanks for your reply. Ash Wednesday is something we do every year. We have done it for 10 years. It is always small. It tends to get to 50 or so if we spend a few weeks promoting it. It takes extra effort to help see the value of it for those who did not grow up with it. Those who attended, some of them ex-Catholics, were quick to tell me it was not very Catholic! Four songs with a guitar, three congregational Scriptures, a short devotional and ashes for those who wanted to.

    All that said, I think Ash Wednesday is something I need. I've said that earlier. Yesterday one of my key leaders in my church told me that the best resource he had all year for Devotions was 'Ashes to Fire". I have to say it was the best for me as well, especially the music, as I downloaded the songs and played them simply for time alone with God.

    I am sure I can do a better job integrating Ash Wednesday into our church but have always leaned towards a 'voluntary' service, as there were others groups meeting that night anyway. We do not have a Wednesday night service, just about five or six groups that meet.

    Thanks for your insight. Some grief in community; others grieve alone.

    For what it is worth, I imposed ashes on a man on Wednesday who tried to kill himself during Christmas. He is in a program at our church, we have met and I am meeting with he and his wife. The District Attorney brought his whole family. A new lawyer in town came. So I guess it is a good sign when the law enforcement community gets it!

    thanks for your thoughts,
    Pastor Jon
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    Senior Member Nate Pruitt's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah Smith View Post
    I tried Ashes to Fire last year and tossed it in the trash. (And I tend to be liturgical and high church and too catholic for some.) It came across to me personally as too new age and contrived. Just my opinion and if you are blessed by it, fantastic.

    I think I live in a different corner of the world from some of you. We DON'T have nothing but slap happy services. We do face death and mourning and sin and the need for repentance. In fact we face them very frequently in our services.

    So that said, we don't need Lent in the sense of that being the only time we do those things.

    If the laity don't want it, why try to force it?
    Having done Ashes to Fire the previous two years I'll admit there was a bit of a disconnect for me from last year's material (Year B) that I haven't found for Year A or Year C. Since I can't explain why I won't belabor that point, but the same was expressed by some close friends, too.

    Now, as to your other statements, the fact that a church faces hardship doesn't mean that it collectively grieves well. We've certainly faced much loss, in fact we had two mothers in our congregation lose sons unexpectedly within a couple weeks of each other and not too long ago. However, our awareness of grieving and suffering in the church certainly isn't a proof that we have a good theology of such things that we live out. Making a liturgical space for grief is another example of worship forming functional faith.

    Such kickback to the idea concerns me because it seems to indicate a belief that the sole purpose of the service is to grieve (weigh down) and sadden the congregation rather than making those gathered more aware of the God who mourns separation from creation due to sin and condescends to restore. When done well such a service could actually prove far more restorative to a congregation that is familiar with, and open to, their grief than a congregation still learning to address those feelings.

    I hope you experience such a service some time to help set your frustrations with what it is not intended to be aside. Speaking of mortality, with the glow of the hope of the eternal as the coming fulfillment of the story, is certainly a blessed entrance into the hope found in grace.
    Seeking to participate in the recreation of that which was called "good" and is being renewed. natepruitt.com My author page on Amazon.
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  34. #34
    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Privett View Post
    Jim,

    You wrote:
    At the same time, an ash Wednesday service imposed upon a congregation who avoids it? Isn't this similar in opposing fashion to telling grieving people to cheer up? While we may be correct in observing peoples prejudices and the things that shape their affinity to participation, shouldn't we also appraise our own prejudices as we seek to minister? I'm reminded of a saying that is repeated at the start of every Lion's club meeting, I think it's important as we seek to form authentic community. "Never above you, never beneath you, always with you."

    My reply:

    Thanks for your reply. Ash Wednesday is something we do every year. We have done it for 10 years. It is always small. It tends to get to 50 or so if we spend a few weeks promoting it. It takes extra effort to help see the value of it for those who did not grow up with it. Those who attended, some of them ex-Catholics, were quick to tell me it was not very Catholic! Four songs with a guitar, three congregational Scriptures, a short devotional and ashes for those who wanted to.

    All that said, I think Ash Wednesday is something I need. I've said that earlier. Yesterday one of my key leaders in my church told me that the best resource he had all year for Devotions was 'Ashes to Fire". I have to say it was the best for me as well, especially the music, as I downloaded the songs and played them simply for time alone with God.

    I am sure I can do a better job integrating Ash Wednesday into our church but have always leaned towards a 'voluntary' service, as there were others groups meeting that night anyway. We do not have a Wednesday night service, just about five or six groups that meet.

    Thanks for your insight. Some grief in community; others grieve alone.

    For what it is worth, I imposed ashes on a man on Wednesday who tried to kill himself during Christmas. He is in a program at our church, we have met and I am meeting with he and his wife. The District Attorney brought his whole family. A new lawyer in town came. So I guess it is a good sign when the law enforcement community gets it!

    thanks for your thoughts,
    Pastor Jon
    Thanks Jon, and I hope we aren't reading each other wrong here. I will admit that I've been somewhat captivated at the portion of the conversation where blame is being attributed for those who choose not to participate, this is what I've pushed back against. While at the same time, I need to say that I have no issue with churches who find this service helpful in ministry. I did read back over your posts and I've noticed that this is something that you find helpful for yourself and others, I can respect that.

    I did have a thought this morning, which got me to wondering. How do we deal with Jesus words concerning outward displays of piety;

    Mat 6:16 ¶ Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    Mat 6:17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

    Mat 6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
    Just thinking out loud here, I'm wondering if the call to repentance, grieving and mourning is appropriate, while the public wearing of ashes may not be?

    I must admit that my reading of Jesus words has, from the start, somewhat steeped me against outward signs of religion, piety and the like. Matthew 6 hits me pretty hard.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor

  35. #35
    Senior Member Nate Pruitt's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chabot View Post
    Thanks Jon, and I hope we aren't reading each other wrong here. I will admit that I've been somewhat captivated at the portion of the conversation where blame is being attributed for those who choose not to participate, this is what I've pushed back against. While at the same time, I need to say that I have no issue with churches who find this service helpful in ministry. I did read back over your posts and I've noticed that this is something that you find helpful for yourself and others, I can respect that.

    I did have a thought this morning, which got me to wondering. How do we deal with Jesus words concerning outward displays of piety;



    Just thinking out loud here, I'm wondering if the call to repentance, grieving and mourning is appropriate, while the public wearing of ashes may not be?

    I must admit that my reading of Jesus words has, from the start, somewhat steeped me against outward signs of religion, piety and the like. Matthew 6 hits me pretty hard.
    I've written a blog post about this, but didn't really get into the ashes in it. So I'll address that here- the ashes could be seen as an outward act of piety if you want to assign a holier-than-thou understanding to things done collectively as the congregation/Church. However, perhaps the ashes are a sign of solidarity with others. On many an Ash Wednesday I have been blessed to see that I am not alone in my humble appreciation of all that Christ has done for me when I go about my daily activities. Have you ever told someone they should take the cross off of their necklace because it's a sign of piety? It would be unfair to assume that a sign that is worn that is a representation of being one with others in Christ is an automatic sign of piety intended to make those who aren't like that individual feel as though they are some how less.

    Now, I say that because the ash isn't a "disfiguring" of the face. Christ was clearly pointing out the elaborate lengths some would go to display the misery of their fast. Suffering for the Lord, indeed. SMH. If having others be in awe of what you endure as you sacrifice is your goal then clearly the Lord who knows the heart has made it clear that is the totality of your reward. With that in mind I do encourage those I minister to that they should fast secretly, not telling others what they are giving up (unless it is to someone who can offer accountability), and being extra attentive to not complain or bemoan the fact that they are going without something they desire. Those moments of sacrificial awareness should cause them to reflect on Christ's sacrifice, not make a public proclamation about their own misery. Really, fasting isn't about us, it's about God- like almost every aspect of the faith it's better to not get that flipped around.

    So, I agree, Matthew 6 hits me pretty hard, but not as an indictment against participating in worship.
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    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Jim, I wonder why the disciples celebrated communion together then. Isn't that an outward sign of religion?
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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Deventer View Post
    Jim, I wonder why the disciples celebrated communion together then. Isn't that an outward sign of religion?
    Hans, I honestly think that you missed what I am saying.

    What I'm talking about are those who parade about in public wearing ashes like some sort of badge of piety. Nate addressed this in his post, I can agree with him regarding this being seen as solidarity among those in the church, celebrating communion together is similar, no problem there whatsoever.

    But we don't hear of the disciples celebrating communion together in the town square do we? What a show of holier than though that would be, in fact I think we could even top the pharisees should we take up that sort of habit, wouldn't you agree.

    Please note that I referred to the "public wearing of ashes." I'm also speaking of how Matthew 6 speaks to me, I would feel quite awkward wearing ashes in public, not due to shame, but rather that I would be "putting on aires." I'm no better than anyone else, not even close, I would never wish to give impression to anyone to the contrary.
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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Shea--you are right people don't always want what they need. But I can't find a scripture anywhere that says we need ash wednesday services. Which puts them in the optional catagory, right along with contemporary music or hymns, etc. A matter of taste.

    But if a pastor is pushing it and the laity are not on board, it could be seen as hubris on the pastor's part to insist.

    And if they don't want it, the pastor may be having it alone.

    Nate--thank you, I was in the Lutheran church many years and have experienced many ash wednesday services. I found them meaningful and appreciated them. But that said, if a community of faith is not fed by them, I see no need to try and force it.
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    Host Sports forum Shea Zellweger's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chabot View Post
    Hans, I honestly think that you missed what I am saying.

    What I'm talking about are those who parade about in public wearing ashes like some sort of badge of piety. Nate addressed this in his post, I can agree with him regarding this being seen as solidarity among those in the church, celebrating communion together is similar, no problem there whatsoever.

    But we don't hear of the disciples celebrating communion together in the town square do we? What a show of holier than though that would be, in fact I think we could even top the pharisees should we take up that sort of habit, wouldn't you agree.
    Don't we?

    My reading of Acts indicates that, at least in part, the Apostles and other followers of the Way performed their acts of piety in the temple courts. It's never spelled out as to where the breaking of bread occurred, but the surrounding context seems to favor the idea that it was at least semi-public.

    I think we in the Protestant world don't have a real grasp on the fasting situation in the 1st century. We think of fasting as an individual thing, scheduled at the discretion of the faster. But the evidence we have for 1st century Judaism is that there were rules into place governing fasts, just as there were rules governing feasts. The Didache calls for Christians to fast on different days than the Jews, which indicates that it was known what days the Jews fasted. So when Jesus is talking to the disciples about fasting, the crowd knows when all faithful Jews will be fasting. The question at hand is your attitude. Apparently some people wanted to make sure everybody knew that they were following the rules, so they would go to great pains to show that they were indeed fasting, and suffering for it. Jesus' command to put oil on your head, wash your face, etc, was one of discipline- fast, but don't show off about it. If people want to doubt whether you're fasting that day, that's their problem, not yours. Those who participate in corporate fasts know that there is a strong likelihood that their fellow community members are fasting, and it's not an issue of keeping things 'hush hush' but about not drawing unnecessary attention to yourself. What's done in secret is not the fasting, it's the suffering/inconvenience/pain of fasting.

    The ashes, however, are not directly related to fasting. Sure, the imposition of the ashes happens on the first day of the longest of the corporate fasts, but the ashes themselves are not about fasting. They are a reminder of mortality, and a call for repentance. When the ashes are imposed, the recipient hears 'remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.' So, if you were to walk around wearing the ashes all day, you'd essentially be saying "Hey everybody, I'm going to die some day." I don't see that as a violation of anything in Matthew 6. It's not about fasting, or praying, or giving. It's about admitting your own mortality.


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    Host Sports forum Shea Zellweger's Avatar

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    Re: Why is Ash Wednesday my Least Attended Service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah Smith View Post
    Shea--you are right people don't always want what they need. But I can't find a scripture anywhere that says we need ash wednesday services. Which puts them in the optional catagory, right along with contemporary music or hymns, etc. A matter of taste.

    But if a pastor is pushing it and the laity are not on board, it could be seen as hubris on the pastor's part to insist.

    And if they don't want it, the pastor may be having it alone.
    I can't go there with you. Tradition is, and should be authoritative in these manners.


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