This year, I decided to introduce my youth to Lent. We gathered last Friday night, and ate pizza and talked about Mardi Gras. I had some beads and masks and coins to pass around. Then we moved into talking about Lent. I like to talk about how it is the journey of looking seriously at our spiritual lives as we move toward Easter.
We’ve talked before before about the cycle of God’s time. God’s time isn’t like ours which moves forward in a line. God’s time moves in a cycle– with Jesus’ life at the center. So the palms we waved last Holy Week become dry and brittle and we burn them the next year at Ash Wednesday. We mix them with oil of healing and water of baptism, and mark our foreheads with a cross. It means we understand that God made us, and to God we will return one day. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. It means we are frail and human, but our souls and spirits are God-breathed. We exist because God love us.
On Sunday, the children’s storyteller spoke to the little ones about Lent, using the images of “feasting and fasting.” I mentioned that I had a bowl of ashes and could show them after service. There were several curious folks after church, young and not-so-young. Sadie and Tess got crosses on their foreheads. For Aaron, I made the sign on his hand.
With my congregation, slowly we move toward this ancient ritual. Many of them are unaccustomed, yet at every opportunity, I try to imbue it with meaning. And the journey for me has been wonderful.