Before our Ash Wednesday Service on March 5th, we will be gathering for a soup dinner in the Plymouth Room, the room on the first floor at the far end of the education wing. The dinner will begin at 5:45 pm. The Ash Wednesday service will begin at 6:30 pm. The service will feature a photo display, a brief reflection period led by Pastor Brooks, flute music by Nancy Fite, and the imposition of ashes upon the forehead.
In her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard writes, “I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.” Dillard is speaking of an ecstatic experience of the divine she once had while on a walk through nature. I love the image of one day discovering that you yourself are an instrument that reverberates to the sound of God’s music. Previously, you might have simply thought of yourself as being a plain, old piece of scrap metal, but then someone picks you up and shows you that you are so much more than that. You are a co-conspirator in God’s plan to fill the world with song.
As I insulated myself in the cozy confines of my home office Sunday morning during the time I normally would be worshiping in our church, I came across the story of a Lutheran minister named Joel Kurz. As a seminarian intern, he served at a Lutheran mission in an inner-city area. It was there that he encountered an alcoholic who encouraged him to learn hymn # 123 in his hymnal. Ralph Vaughan Williams composed the tune for this hymn. The words that accompany it come from a 15th-century text that reads, “Come down, O Love divine, seek thou this soul of mine.” Vaughan Williams was fond of the hymn and requested that it be sung at his own funeral.
The humorist and pianist Victor Borge once said, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” Laughter cannot only bring us close to other humans. It can bring us closer to God. Our annual poetry worship service on February 16th will draw upon this idea. The poems incorporated into our worship that day will capture the lighter side of life as we reflect upon the divine through the gift of laughter.