It’s common tradition to burn the previous year’s palm branches from Palm Sunday to use on Ash Wednesday. I would like to suggest instead that we use the ashes of what’s left of the United Methodist Church for our service next Wednesday.
Because frankly, not much is left. The Traditionalist Plan which passed General Conference on Tuesday effectively dismantled the denomination for those who believe that LGBTQ persons are worthy of weddings and ordination.
However, I can’t think of a better church season to enter at this point than Lent. After the shock and disappointment of General Conference, we enter into forty days of fasting and prayer.
Like the ancient children of Israel, we walk into the wilderness, not sure exactly where we’re headed, but following a rogue cloud in the daylight and a fiery pillar at night.
Like Jesus, we enter the desert, where we encounter Satan, who is eager to sell us a false dream.
Like Paul, we are thrown into prison, where we can do nothing but sing and pray, while the earth shakes beneath us.
And so, in the words of our Methodist liturgy, let me beckon you to the church next Wednesday at 6:30 pm for a service of ashes:
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church,
to observe a holy Lent:
by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self-denial;
and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.
To make a right beginning of repentance,
and as a mark of our mortal nature,
let us now kneel before our Creator and Redeemer.