This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Lent 2018: Ashes to ashes

Ruth Harder is pastor of Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, Kansas. She is a graduate of Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. This post originally appeared on the Menno Snapshots blog, where the full version is available.

“What are you grilling on this snowy day?” asked my neighbor yesterday, as I stood on our deck monitoring the smoke spilling out of our Weber grill. “Smells interesting.”

“Yeah, it’s just something for work,” I said (and immediately regretted). When he looked puzzled I decided to come clean.

“I’m making some ash for an upcoming church service,” I said. “Don’t worry. No one was harmed in the making of this ash.” (As is often the case when I start explaining my role as a pastor, my neighbor had no additional questions, smiled nervously and went inside.)

I went back to stirring and then straining the ash, thinking about the strange job and life I lead as a Mennonite pastor. And how humor isn’t always my forte.

Burning last year’s palm branches felt particularly important to me this year. That’s because last year as we waved the palm branches jubilantly while singing, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” I was not feeling very jubilant.

Some difficult things were happening, which in turn was creating a lot of anxiety, grief and fear. Easter did not bring relief, nor did the weeks and months to follow. Holy Week last year felt far from holy.

[To read the full version of this post on MC USA’s Menno Snapshots blog, click here]

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