The Spirit of Adaptation
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. When I was in seminary, Protestant pastors had just started embracing the use of ashes as a symbol to begin a faithful and focused Lenten Season. Each of the three churches I have served adopted it modestly; the current church usually has 75 attendees at the Wednesday evening service (about 40% of Sunday’s numbers pre-COVID). Not bad for a midweek worship.
This year poses some issues. We are only worshipping in-house at 35% capacity (about 100 people), masked, and socially distanced. This number is not an issue per se, as we currently only see approximately 40-50 attendees on Sunday morning. So tomorrow night, we are likely to see 25 at best. No, the big obstacle tomorrow is touching. How can I dispense ashes if I can’t touch people without having to wash or disinfect my thumb after touching someone’s forehead? Even gloves are not the answer because you can’t change them fast enough. So what do we do?
So I put my crack team on it. After the initial “jokester” suggestions like pre-dipping Nerf darts in ashes and popping people in the forehead (thanks, Kid Kosha!), a useful, simple, and inexpensive method was suggested by “Queen of the Dee-Hive.”
Each person will receive the mark of Lenten commitment on their forehead with their very own swab. After each application, I will throw the swab away, and a fresh one will take its place for the next person in line.
I want to say, “Brilliant!” But in the end, we need to give credit where credit is due; the Holy Spirit of “42.”
Throughout this pandemic, God has inspired us to maintain community amid this prolonged isolation. Live YouTube worship, outside worship on the lawn, Coffee Hour in a Bag, Sixty Second Sunday School, and so much more. Now, Ash Wednesday with Q-Tips!
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1