A Letter from Pastor Alice: Surprising Moment of Sustenance

February 18, 2021

    Hello Calvary. We had a lovely Ash Wednesday service this past week.

    About 30 people joined us for our Zoom service. I do prefer in person worship, but these kinds of services are still incredibly meaningful. As we played a recording of Denise's prelude and postlude, I closed my eyes and almost felt like I was back in the sanctuary, sitting in a chancel chair, looking out at you all. We screenshare slides of calls to worship and hymns on the screen, and it feels like worship to me. And then we went into break-out rooms, and as each of us made the symbol of a cross on our foreheads with our homemade ashes (eyeshadow for me), all of us in the group said: "from dust you came, and to dust you shall return." I looked out my window and there was gentle snow falling, and I was sitting in my home office with my fellow brothers and sisters, reminding each other we are dust. I was filled with peace.

   Admittedly, approaching Lent this year was difficult for me. Normally I enjoy this liturgical season. Perhaps enjoy isn't the right word, but I look forward to the purposeful realigning of priorities, the breaking of habits, and the reflection that can help me get out of my spiritual rut. But this year, it felt like the very last thing my soul wanted. We had all given up a lot, for a whole year already, and it felt like my soul was already beat down enough. It felt a bit like we've been running a marathon, and after a year we are asked to increase our pace. How could I possibly approach this season of reflection where we align ourselves closer to the suffering of Jesus? How could I remind myself that from dust I was created and to dust I shall return, when this past year has been a nonstop tragic reminder that so many of us can become dust so quickly?

   But on Ash Wednesday I was reminded of God's providence. Sometimes I get so worried about how I will cope with something that I forget to ask God for help. And then God steps in to remind me that God's got this. In other words, God can provide meaningful moments for us when we are wondering how we are going to survive in a season. God can and does act when we need a bit of sustenance. And in my case, it was in a virtual Ash Wednesday service, reminding each other we are dust, listening to beautiful music, and being together. It's just a bit of sustenance, but sustenance nonetheless. It's my prayer that you find these unexpected moments of peace amidst our Lenten journey through the desert, and may you be reminded of God's providence.