The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent for most of the world's Christians, especially in the Western church. It's become quite fashionable for many of my colleagues to take time on this day and bring the work of the church out from behind the "bricks and mortar" and impose ashes in a variety of public places. I'm very happy about this movement which runs counter to the under-currents in the church that worry about what people will think if we show off, or the one where the church is so entitled that the people have to come to us. The movement reminds me of Mary's role as "God-Bearer" to the world, and the angel's encouragement to Mary to not be afraid, because she found favor with God. Mary had all the reason in the world to lock herself up in a building, yet on she went, to Bethlehem, to the Temple, to Egypt, to Nazareth, and finally to the Cross.
I was privileged to join my sisters and brothers yesterday in this little bit of God-Bearing, at the large commuter train station in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. I spent just one hour imposing ashes to those commuting home from New York City, and blessed 41 souls, many of who expressed great joy in being able to receive ashes in the middle of a busy schedule. Some told me that it had been years since ashes were received. What a great joy it was to serve God's people and to tell them "Go in peace, your sins are forgiven, in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit"
I even did Archbishop Dolan a favor. Two people I blessed were so grateful because the lines at St. Patrick's Cathedral were so long. Don't think I'll get a thank you note, though...
I hope this bold, God-bearing movement continues to grow and flourish...and find more than "once-a-year" ways to keep it fresh.
What are your ideas? What have you done to be the new God-Bearers?
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About this website
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.