Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ash Wednesday ashes, yes or no?

Found this link posted elsewhere:

Pastor Cwirla explains that he is a preacher of the gospel and dispenser of forgiveness and sacraments, not doer of man-invented rituals proclaiming death.  It's a beautiful post full of good news.  I see his point.

Yet, we had ashes for the very first time this year at our home congregation.  Below find, what the bulletin said about it.  

And I did find the event meaningful in that it brought home to me in a different way that I need Jesus.  I really, really need him because I am indeed dying, dying in my sin.  He is exactly the Savior I need.  A Savior from sin and death.  

This is what my church bulletin said in way of explanation:

"The seasons of the church year reflect differing moods, as does life itself:  overwhelming triumph, deep sorrow, quiet joy, eager anticipation, and even normal, ordinary life and growth.  Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, a time of contemplative sorrow over our own sinfulness and special remembrance of the sufferings of Jesus Christ for our sin.  Ashes have been a sign of sorrow for millennia, and there are numerous biblical examples of people covering themselves with ashes.  Today we invite you who wish to participate to come forward at this time to receive the mark of ashes on your forehead as a vivid reminder of your own mortality (ashes to ashes) as an expression of repentance before God.  The ashes are the remains of last year's palm branches, thereby showing how fickle our praise to God often becomes.  But ashes also suggest cleansing and renewal, and they point to the gift of forgiveness God gives us in Jesus Christ."

What comes to mind also, is that monks placed skulls on their desks to remind them of their mortality.  But we are no monks, either.

In any case, I am not going to worry about it any more tonight, as long as no rule is made about it. 


Steve Martin said...

Pastor Cwirla ought realize that in our Christian freedom, we are free to do good theology and do things that will aid or enhance our faith life.

Brigitte said...

Thanks, Steve, what is the practice in your congregation?

Steve Martin said...

You can receive ashes if you want.

Just about everyone does.

You guys?

Brigitte said...

Well, yes we had them for the first time, for those who would like them. With the explanation it is fine.

We say dust to dust, and so we are indeed going to dust, but what is being traced is a cross. So we can't forget about what Christ has done. It's alright. He is saving us from sin, death and the devil.

Steve Martin said...

Yes, it's a perfect law/gospel illustration.

I've been trying to get a hold of Raggedy Lamb (Rebecca) who lives in Japan.

Have you heard anything from her?

Brigitte said...

Sorry, I don't know anything about Raggedy Lamb.

About the law/gospel illustration, I think there might be people who say that we don't do things in divine service for "illustration". When you come up in church you are usually receiving a sacrament, which is a real thing, or making a vow, or making a confession, which is also supposed to be the real thing. We are not into "illustrations" or inventing our own worship.

I am not saying that's what we are doing, but might be want some might say.

Steve Martin said...

We use symbolism in the Lutheran church all the time.

The pastors vestments, for example. No Sacrament there, but lots of symbolism. The Christ candle.Even (oft times)the shape and design of the church building itself.

We aren't liturgical legalists or biblicists, we do good theology and use symbols to drive (push forward) Christ.

Am I wrong?

Brigitte said...

We don't seem to have any pastors here right now.

I went up and I thought it was meaningful. I thought it was Christ-centered in the way it was presented and in the way the pastor spoke about it. He did not neglect to speak about forgiveness of sins in Christ (not the observance of Ash Wednesday in any form).

Still it was a kind of an "act" in the middle of divine service, not Sunday School class, so maybe it deserves to be analyzed. It would be what they call in reformation times a "ceremony", perhaps, (?) which are to be free but not over done and never for works.

But analyzing it to death, is not fruitful either. I'll just say again: I am dying and this could be my last day. All this is ok, because Jesus Christ has conquered death, sin and the devil and he is with me and for me. So that's my last word on it. :)

Steve Martin said...

Fair enough!