“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2014 Lenten Labyrinth Walks, The Cathedral of St. Phillips – Atlanta Georgia, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church – Atlanta, Imposition of Ashes:
I arrived in Atlanta at 11 am. So I googled the “imposition of ashes Atlanta Presbyterian” and nothing popped up. So I deleted “Presbyterian” and I saw that they were performing the imposition of ashes at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. I headed there. PRUMC is beautiful church. I walked in the chapel and was I’m amazed at how wondrous “the chapel” was. I was the only one in the chapel other than the Methodist minister. At the imposition, she stated to me: “REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE DUST, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN.”
She was young and we chat afterwards. I must confess that I liked having the privacy of having the ashes placed on my forehead without any one else present.
Afterwards, I quickly drove to the Cathedral to walk my first labyrinth of this Lent. I am on a roll …
The Cathedrals’s labyrinth was half in shade and half in sunshine. It was very cool today. There was a dramatic difference as I walked from shade to sunshine. I’ve always noticed this transition when I walk. It makes you take a deep breath as you feel the transition.
As I walked, I read from the Peachtree Road Presbyterian Lenten Devotional. In the first paragraph I read:
We live in a culture that is built on personal freedom, instant gratification, and lack of consequences. We are so encouraged to think about our own desires and wants, it seems strange to think about God’s desires… and especially how our actions might be in conflict with God’s will for our lives. At the same time, we seem to know, even if only subconsciously, that we all have fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
In my TMBS at my home church yesterday, we discussed that one of the things that causes us doubt in our faith walk is the great inequality of wealth, both at home and worldwide. My home Presbyterian church, Peachtree Road Methodist Church and the Cathedral of St. Philip are all examples of this extreme wealth that we have in the United States (and that we put it toward praising God), but still this causes conflict and doubt.
In another paragraph of the devotional, it mentioned humbly facing our sins. Although it did not use the term “embarrassment” of our sin, the entry danced all around the concept. I laughed to myself knowing that I will feel embarrassment shortly when I see my mother and she quizzes me about the ash mark on my forehead. The imposition of ashes service, Ash Wednesday or Lent were not part of our worship growing up. They were only done in the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches
As I was at the center, I realized that for a moment that I was where I am supposed to be. I could confess my sin and accept the grace that is offered.
As I am preparing this, I read an email from my childhood Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. (Yes, they do now have an Imposition of Ashes Service). The email basically defines what this service is:
And it closed with this … “But after today, our penitence and our prayers of fasting are done in private as an offering to God.” Oh good, I can go back to being private.