35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
Last night was the Ash Wednesday service. Since I am still in my first year at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, I am still having many firsts along the way. Around holidays this is particularly pronounced. In my world, when people say Ash Wednesday service, not many people show up. Oh, a few devoted people will come to reflect on their mortality and will get ashed on the forehead but rarely do we pack the house. Ash Wednesday is not the favorite holiday typically and many people avoid the depressing pieces of the story.
Mark and I gathered our papers together and put on our robes. I even got to wear the stole that I wore for a dear friend’s wedding this past summer…purple and all. We pulled our thoughts together and fussed with the microphones. The choir rehearsed and our musicians moved into place and then…
People started arriving! And I don’t mean just a few…the Sancuary was full! I looked out to those who came to reflect and sing and mourn and be with one another and I was entirely moved. I leaned over to Mark and whispered, “Dude, there are people here!” He leaned back and whispered, “It’s those Lutherans who make this an event…”
We pulled out the books for the Holden Evening Service which I had never been a part of. We sang and then we asked people to come forward to be ashed. At this point Mark and leaned over and said to each person, “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Every time was a moving experience. The music was contemplative and lovely and accessible. People came to reflect and just be with one another.
Jesus today asks us to “Come and see.” Seems simple enough. Just come and see for yourself what God is doing. Last night could have been just a typical gig for me and many times Ash Wednesday is due to how we usually perceive it. And yet, last night, I came and I saw that God is doing something in our midst. I came and saw what it means to be human with one another. God invites us to do this all along the way in this journey. Just show up. Just show up and be open to what you might see. It won’t be a burden if you come with the mindset that God is already there. Just show up with ears to listen and eyes to see. Just show up with a mind wide open for a new experience.