Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In Extra-Ordinary Time

I wanted to go to an Ash Wednesday service today. My own church's service is at night (which I don't much like ~ it seems that we're saying, "OK, we'll do this, but late enough that no one will see us") and I have a class on Wednesday nights.

Then I discovered that my old Methodist church has a service at noon, so I thought I'd go over there.

And then I spent some time agonizing over whether I wanted to spend the afternoon teaching my Jewish students with ashes smudged on my forehead. Most of them would be merely curious, and supportive rather than offended. Many of the teachers, perhaps the opposite. I finally decided against it. If I worked in a secular environment, my solution would be different. During Advent, I wrote about going to a church meeting one night where one of the gentlemen had come directly from work wearing a Christmas tie. That would not have happened in my workplace. My workplace is a community and a home for people whose beliefs, and contextualization of their their beliefs, differ from mine.

I don't know whether or not I was right. One of my colleagues, headed for her UCC service tonight, agreed with me. Another, a rabbi, said he was genuinely sorry that we felt our observance might be offensive to others.

Result: No ashes on my forehead. Ashes in my heart.

(Image: Armenian Temptation of Jesus).

7 comments:

Presbyterian Gal said...

Ashes in the heart are where they count the most, don't you know.

Carol said...

I agree with Presby Gal on that. And I find it interesting that you and your co-worker felt that reactions would be one way when the rabbi felt they'd be another. Perhaps this is the opportunity to open a dialogue within your staff regarding this topic.
I know that when I taught in a conservative day school I often felt out of place as a reform jew.

Lisa :-] said...

It's hard to know whether you are being politically correct or selling others short...

Mary Beth said...

If I get ashes early in the day, I always wash my face before going out. The scripture tells me to. (it doesn't tell everyone that...)

Quotidian Grace said...

I replied to your comment on QG before I read the blog, so consider it repeated here...

Kathryn said...

The sermon and the gospel at our evening service were about doing good works quietly rather than to show off for others. I know for you it would not be a matter of showing off but I'm sorry you missed a chance to start lent with a worship service.

We had three choices for times at our church but dh worked and the kids had activities so evening is what worked for us.

Gannet Girl said...

Thank you all for the comments.

I don't feel sorry for myself, politically correct, or like a sellout, of others or myself.

It can be a challenge to work in a community of which one is decidedly not a member. I'm grateful for the opportunity to try.