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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

blooper reel, pt. 2

I'm not sure if I just need a laugh myself, because ministry and dissertatin' have been such a constant, hard press, or if I'm just feeling a little punchy, but this is all I have this week... pastoral bloopers, take two.

On my first Ash Wednesday at my present church, I struggled through the logistics. I had been an Associate Minister previously, which meant: 1) I didn't know where you get the ashes; 2) I didn't know how to prepare the ashes; 3) I really knew nothing about ashes.

The church secretary had secured a bag of ashes for me. One detail down. But at 6:30pm, 30 min. before the service was to start, I got them out to practice on my hand. Dry as dust they were (maybe why ashes and dust are linked together?) I added a bit of water... and it washed away. Something was not right. Maybe I need oil instead of water. So, I run to the church kitchen. Oil, oil, where is oil. Ah, I see some Pam cooking spray. I sprayed it on my hand, then sprinkled some ashes on there. Nope, that's a horrible mess - took 5 min. to wash the sludge off my hand. 6:50, and I try olive oil. It makes one giant slimy ash-ball. Nope, that's not it.

So, at 6:55, I called my colleague from the previous church. I told the person who answered the phone my crisis and she pulled him out of their service (started at 6:30) to come help me! He said I needed water after all. So, off I go to the restroom to find the right amount to make ash-paste.

Whew, I made it, running into the sanctuary at 7pm for the somber, serious service. It goes fine... for a while. We had about 50 people there. Near the end I had them file up to me to receive the ashes, and I say something like what I remember hearing in my previous church (notice, I hadn't really thought this through).

You have come from ashes, and to ashes you will return.
Well, that sounded good enough for my first try. I had preached on repentance and ashes and it made sense in that context.

Now you try saying that sentence over and over 50x in a row.

Around person #38 one of our members stepped up before me and I said my line, gave him the cross, and he moved on. I remember that he kind of blinked and looked at me funny, so I hit the "rewind" button in my brain. Yep, there it was, clear as crystal:
You have come from asses, and to asses you will return.
What is it with me and ashes? The postscript to this story is that I've found a new Ash Wednesday tag line:
You have come from dust, and to dust you shall return.
I am teachable, after all.

1 comment:

Toby Brown said...

yeah, I hear you! I don't even use that line anymore. I want people to aspire to heaven, not dwell on the dust.

I either remind them of their baptism or that in life and death they belong to Christ.

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