Pathways through Lent

Ash Wednesday- Sitting in the Last Pew

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

“We’re going to sit in the last pew because that way we don’t have to stay if
we don’t want to,” my mother whispered as we slipped in before the service
started.
It was a simple comment in 1970. But on the Sundays thereafter, as we always
slipped into the back pew, I pondered it—and came to realize how true it was.
Sitting in the back of the church approximated our true level of commitment.
We were nice people and attended regularly, but we slipped in on Sunday
mornings and slipped right out again. We gratefully partook of the worship
community without ever giving back.
Sitting farther forward in the nave would have translated to entanglement, to
committees, to commitments . . . and who knows what else? So we never did.
The Spirit moved us in recent years, though. My elderly mother—who sat us
in the back those many years—recently told me that she had been elected as
a church deacon. Even in light of her stroke a few years ago, she was willing
to serve. “You can’t sit there in the last pew all of your life,” she whispered
without a trace of irony. “You have to do something.”
So we do. May this Lent be your opportunity to move forward, both with
God—and in His church.

–Sandra Hackworth

Last Pew

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