Grocery Store Gospel

Have you ever been put on the spot about your faith? And I mean put on the spot with actual strangers waiting for your answer? It’s scary. You’ve got to get it right in about 10 words and 3 seconds, and it seems like when it happens I never get it quite right. 
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Ash Wednesday noon service at MDUMC is hands down my favorite service all year long. It trumps Easter and Christmas Eve in my book, and here’s why: I CAN GO IN MY YOGA PANTS AND SNEAKERS.

This may seem like a lazy way out, but I assure you it’s bigger than that. I love this service because it says…

“Hey – I know you’re in the middle of your day, but slow down for a minute and sit awhile. I don’t care where you’ve come from. I don’t care where you’re going next. I don’t care what you’re wearing. Just come in and sit by me and we’ll be still together.”

Couldn’t we all use a little more of that?

Ash Wednesday gives us permission to strip away all the nonsense that we burden ourselves with – the trappings of wealth, or success, or popularity, or what we think we need to present to the world – and come back to center. To remember that none of it matters in the story of Jesus. He doesn’t care about any of it other than that you come in and sit with him awhile, that you are willing to lay it down, to admit that you might have gotten just a scosche off track, and that you’re looking forward again now – eyes on the prize.

That’s the Jesus I know, the “I saved you a seat” guy.

So when the checker at Kroger just asked me “what does it mean?” as she gestured to my forehead, a million thoughts of Lent and wilderness and 40 days and all the things rushed in and I started to panic. And then I took a deep breath, looked her in the eyes, and God gave me this…

“It reminds me of what really matters”.

And she cocked her head to one side, looked at me for a second, and then said “cool” and went back to scanning the spinach.

Lent. 
Simplify. 
Re-center. 
Remember. 
It’s all just dust.

Cool.

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