I know, I may be taking this joy thing a little too far. It is Lent after all. However, I think there is joy to be found, even in repentance.
On Fat Tuesday, we had Five Guys burgers and a family steak party, negotiated what we would be doing for Lent this year and prepared to go to our (long) parish Ash Wednesday service the next day. We thought we had a plan.
And that is where it all went so wrong, it went right. We were driving back from karate on Ash Wednesday, when what to our wondering eyes should appear but the Ashes to Go drive-thru Lenten service offered by Pastor Pete at the House of Prayer Lutheran Church. We edged the dusty brown minivan between all the F150s and were greeted by Curtis (just like the head elf in the Santa Clause movies!). He gave us a reflection brochure with a confessional section, Psalm 51 (How about that, Gus Lloyd!) and a benediction.
Then on to Pastor Pete and the perfect – I mean perfect – ash cross he gave us. Even better, he did my favorite blessing: Remember Man That Thou Art Dust and Unto Dust Thou Shall Return. Wow! Hadn’t heard that version since Father Hammond at St. John’s Parish circa 1975. The one about the Gospels is fine, but to me, this one gets to the heart of things: you will die so get your priorities straight. Boom.
Pastor Pete went on to explain that their Lenten theme this year is “Walk Dusty,” which made my mini-van feel really good. However, this idea is from a quotation in the Mishna “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” There has been a lot of debate about what this quote really means but I think we can safely agree that it means to follow your teacher very closely. Walk in the footsteps of Jesus, anyone? While we had a great Mass later that evening (ironically with same blessing – is it retro now?), it is Pastor Pete who put the joy in my Lent. I am almost gleefully repentant.
I know you and I are being Lent Buddies this year and each of us are doing a different 40 day challenge (we will report throughout the season).I don’t want to use the word competition… I like to think of it as the 40 Day Lenten Challenge Smack-Down. Irreverent? Possibly, but also motivating and we know that we are always more effective when we have to answer to someone. So, this Lent, I invite to you to Walk Dusty with me. Let’s get into the Word and put it to action!