It all started with a knock . . .
The knock at the door brought us face to face with our oldest parishioners. They had come over to discuss concerns about our Ash Wednesday service. We had imposed ashes as a part of marking the season of Lent and now this precious couple was sitting in our living room. “I truly believe that ashes limit the Holy Spirit.” We looked into the earnestness of their eyes and knew that a line had been crossed. They had been Nazarenes for two generations and now they were leaving the Nazarene denomination. Using real ashes in our Ash Wednesday service meant that we were no longer on the right path.
We knew that using ashes gave a new meaning to our Lenten season and created a real sense of Jesus’ suffering for us. Many of our converts at that church had Catholic backgrounds and it made sense to use ashes for an Ash Wednesday service. But why did we care so much? Why was this important enough to take a stand?