UPDATE: Want to see all the magic that happened on Ash Wednesday around town? Check out the video above! Much thanks to Tyler Matthews for putting this together for us!
Need a little background scoop? Keep reading to find out how all this came together...
In addition to evening worship, this year our co-pastors are going to stand awkwardly on a corner and offer ashes to people passing by. And we're going to bring our co-directors of music along with us, our sound engineer and even a stand up bass just to make sure we don't go unnoticed.
...think we're crazy? Good. Cause we are. A little bit.
Ash Wednesday is coming up on March 1st. That's a Wednesday. And it's the first day of Lent. Always, that's how it works.
It's pretty common to give up something during Lent and Ash Wednesday is that dreaded day: it's your second chance this year to go "all in." But, this year, instead of encouraging everyone to give up the one thing the love most (ahem...chocolate, booze, Netflix), we are encouraging each other to take something on. And not a new workout routine or diet, but a spiritual practice that will impact your faith and your community. We, the church staff, are starting it on Ash Wednesday. We will roam the streets with ashes on our foreheads and we will go out of our comfort zones to offer those same ashes to others.
This idea to take Ash Wednesday to the streets isn't ours. It's been a movement in churches to go outside of church walls and offer ashes and prayers to people on their daily commutes in most big cities. Dawn participated in San Francisco for the last few years and shared how powerful the experience can be:
We stood at the transit station, holding a sign that said, 'Ashes and Prayer' and watched a whole lot of people give us side eye as they walked by. Our few hours standing there was worth it though in just a few interactions. One of them was a middle aged woman walking toward us and telling us about a lump in her breast the doctors just found. She was on her way into work and unsure how she would make it through the day. Looking into her eyes as I made a cross of ashes on her forehead made me realize the true meaning of Ash Wednesday - that in the face of mortality, faced with our own death, we point to resurrection...for and with each other.
Sometimes it's easier to remember why we observe these holy days when our surroundings change and we're aware of others observing us. So, that's what we're gonna do. Crazy as it sounds, we're gonna go be awkward on day one.
We'll have two worship services together as a church family that evening, 5:30 pm and 7:00 pm upstairs at 701 Whaley. And it will be great and somber and just what you need to get your Lent on.
But That Morning...
But in the morning, we're trying something new. We will move outside our comfort zones and be a visual symbol of the reality of Jesus. Reminding people and ourselves that we are dust and to dust we will return...and that there is a connection in our mortality, our humanity, our brokenness...that unites us as one in our need for salvation.
So, pray for us, your crazy church worker bees as we seek to follow Jesus. And if you want, stop by one of the locations to hear some good music and see what God is up to...out on the loose...on the street corners of downtown Columbia.
- 9 - 9:30 am | Bus stop near the Spot on Blanding at the corner of Laurel and Marion
- 10-10:30 am | Towers at 1930 Marion St - between Richland and Calhoun
- 11-11:30 am | Corner of Main and Senate - USC students and government