Pathways through Lent

Ash Wednesday: The First Step

Psalm 103; Joel 2:1–2, 12–17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10; Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21

I first stepped foot into St John’s church on the morning of Ash Wednesday
one year ago. I work nearby, so maybe I saw the church on one of my walks?
Or perhaps I recalled that the president sometimes attended here? Neither
of those reasons would have compelled me to get up early, Google the St
John’s website, and then set out for a church service on a weekday morning.

Something else was at work.

Ash Wednesday

At the time, I had been walking different paths for a while. I was like
Goldilocks on a spiritual quest—one religious faith was too rigid, and another
was too soft. I was searching for the church that felt just right.

The energy inside St John’s was palpable that morning, and I was moved to
tears. Luis’ sermon seemed to be directed to me personally. “Lent is a process.
It is not about what you give up but about what you take on.” Although I am
paraphrasing Luis’ sermon on that Ash Wednesday morning a year ago, the
words ring true and challenge me still.

The path to God begins with awareness, and I am grateful that my spiritual
path brought me here. And once again this year, I am aware that Lent is not
about what you give up.

I freely give my time and resources to the church, but I am also aware that
I have scant interaction with the poor. So this year I am stepping from my
comfortable distance and taking on service to others during this Lenten
process—once again taking another first step.
–Sandra Hackworth


5 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday: The First Step”

  1. Beautiful. Why is something that is such a pure holiday, like Lent, riddled with such diffident expectations? I guess they come from people and we’re all different. I do respect how Luis emphasizes the taking on versus giving up aspect of Lent.

    Thank you Sandra for a wonderful meditation.

  2. Sandra, wonderful thoughts. I, too, am looking for ways to “lean in” to Lent this year, not just give up or avoid certain things. Good for you!

  3. Celebrating this anniversary for you, Sandy, and so grateful you are part of our community at St. Johns. Thanks for sharing so generously of yourself and your thoughts. Joanne

  4. I remember that Ash Wed service well from last year – 0730…it was powerful. He called an audible when he saw how many were in the pews and asked me to help him at the altar. I emailed Luis when I got to work let him know that it was powerful, a great way to start Lent, and thanked him for his sermon that morning. I’m glad that you were drawn to come to Saint John’s that day. Marilyn

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