This year’s Ash Wednesday was the first in nearly thirty years that I was not serving a church as a Pastor and the first in several years that I was not responsible for all or part of the Ash Wednesday service. Not even the church I have been attending was marking the day with a service so I worshipped in a church of a different denomination but one I was not unfamiliar with. I have even preached and co-lead worship in another congregation of the same denomination, but that was over six years ago.
It felt both odd and refreshing to be sitting in the pews rather than standing behind the pulpit or presiding at the table and to not know anyone attending the service. I find it difficult not to be critical when I am a worshiper rather than a worship leader and yesterday was no exception. The priest fumbled the liturgy a bit, but so have I, and he recovered well. I thought the sermon was a little lacking, the preacher trying to pack too much into it, but he proclaimed the Word nevertheless.
Hearing and participating with worshippers as the Priest led them in the Sursum Corda lifted my heart and spirit. Walking to and kneeling at the rail to receive the Eucharist engaged my body in a way it has not been engaged in worship in a long time. Drinking real wine from a common cup warmed my throat and faith.