For reasons which are lost in the mists of history, the congregation in which I hang my hat does not have an early morning Ash Wednesday service. The morning service there is at 10:00 a.m. which for folks like I who arise at 4:30 a.m., is the middle of the day.
So today I took myself to Sarasota's Anglo-Catholic "The Church of the Redeemer" for their 7:00 a.m. service. Now there's a sensible time!
I rarely attend "Redeemer" (a strong, growing, and thriving congregation) because that congregation will not allow the ministry of ordained women, a sine qua non for me.
(More's the pity since Redeemer has solid preaching, seamless liturgy, and superb music).
With those reservations in mind, (and despite the all-male presence at the "Altar"), I was glad to be there this morning.
With about sixty others (at 7:00 a.m.!) I relaxed in a simple and unfussy Liturgy. But I was "most glad" and grateful for the sermon which was preached by the Rector at Redeemer, Fred Robinson.
He reminded us that when we were baptized, our parents made the decision to raise us as Christians, and that the Minister made the sign of the Cross on our brows.
He went on to say that we, grateful for our parents' decision, "ratified" that choice when we chose to be confirmed - signifying our own choice to "follow Jesus".
He linked this with the sign of the Cross, made with Ashes, and placed on brows on Ash Wednesday with the central and vital truth that Christians are those who have decided to follow Jesus.
Within his sermon we sang (a-capella):
"I have decided to follow Jesus (x3)
No turning back, no turning back"
Fred's sermon ( as the Puritans might have said) "spoke to my condition".
Ash Wednesday brings out my Protestant self, so although when I was a Rector I "imposed" ashes with wild abandon, I did not receive them today: such are the minor inconsistencies of life.
Ashes or not I am grateful for my brother Fred Robinson's sermon today.
|Ashes: Remember that thou are dust, and to dust thou shalt return.|