Ash Wednesday

We had a wonderful start to our Lenten season tonight. We had the usual service of ashes, with scriptures and beautiful music. Tonight, I encouraged folks to see the message of Ash Wednesday being one of acknowledging our limitations. Especially when we are young, we like to imagine that we live without them. But as we grow through life, the truth is –whether it’s our ability to “help others,” or “seek justice,” whether it’s our careers or our physical health– eventually we run up against limitations. We bump against blocks and obstacle that others put in our way, or self-imposed ones. Or, we come face-to-face with the physical limits of just getting older.

The classic line of the day is “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return;” seen broadly as a call to acknowledge our mortality.

But what I suggested to everyone is that each of our limitations are, in a sense, little deaths that happen each and every day. Parts of us are always dying. New parts are always being born. There is power in acknowledging limits. But! There is power in then trusting that grace and power can still work through them, and in us, anyway.

The other really powerful piece of worship was our “Wailing Wall.” We have created a Wailing Wall in the sanctuary, along the “grid” that we normally have in the sanctuary. Like the real Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, seen to the left, people came forward and left prayers along it. Others will add to these prayers during the coming weeks, as we move toward Easter.

The Wailing Wall was very well received, and it’s always so gratifying when something the Worship Team envisions turns out well in real life.

So, for the creativity for our team, for a church that encourages it, and for all who came and were a part of Ash Wednesday, I am thankful.

(During this year, my goal is to find something new to be thankful for every single day, and to add that thanksgiving as a blog entry, under the title “My Daily Gratitude.” I started this kick back around Thanksgiving, and it’s already resulted in a favorite new song of mine. The goal of this ongoing spiritual exercise is to see if doing such a thing might inspire even more gratitude within me, and to foster general awareness of life on a deeper level.)

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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