Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jacksboro UMC Ash Wednesday Service


Last night, I went to the Ash Wednesday service at Jacksboro, TN. During an Ash Wednesday service you seek forgiveness from God for something that you have done wrong. This is written on a slip of paper. The paper is then burned in a small pot and the ashes placed on your forehead. It is a dignified, solemn service.

The service last night was different from any I have ever attended. It is one that I am likely going to remember for a long time to come.

Jacksboro UMC has a children's ministry on Wednesday nights. Kids are brought in by the van load to learn about God, have dinner and enjoy each other. It was the decision of the adults who are over the kids to bring them upstairs for the Ash Wednesday service and I am so glad that they did!

The kids were enthusiastic. The pastor asked for a couple of volunteers to help hand out the slips of paper. About a dozen responded without hesitation. It is said that "a child shall lead" and so they did.

The pastor gave us a few minutes to write down our responses. As he did this he talked about Ash Wednesday and what it meant. He talked of preparation, new beginnings and hopes. The kids took it all in. When the pastor called for us to line up to place our papers in the bowl the kids came forward eagerly, but carefully. They reverently held their paper over the candle and dropped it into the bowl.

Each child seemed to understood what they were doing. How cool is that?

It would be nice if I could say that these kids are in church every Sunday morning. They aren't. For the most part they are allowed to come by parents who don't care. God sees them and through the people of Jacksboro UMC the kids have been provided with unofficial Godparents.

These Godparents make sure that the kids are there on Wednesday nights to learn about God. They feed them. Teach them. Listen to the kids, love them and then send the kids home with the knowledge that someone cares about them and that God is always near.

Can any of us ask for more?